Mondello gears up for 50th anniversary showcase

Irish driver Craig Breen

Irish rallying hope the profits generated from this weekend’s IMSF Mondello 50 will help defray the rising costs of insurance and offset financial risks facing the sport.

Last October, following a meeting with Motorsport Ireland, an independent group, the Irish Motorsport Support Fund, was set up and they subsequently chose the Mondello event as its principal fundraiser. The event also coincides with the 50th anniversary of Mondello Park and for the purposes of the IMSF event the Kildare circuit will be transformed into four live arenas along with areas for static displays.

Tomorrow and Sunday (10am) it will showcase 13 disciplines of motorsport where spectators will be given the opportunity to accompany some rally and drift car drivers.

Irish WRC competitors Craig Breen and Paul Nagle will be in attendance. Both will also be present at the gala fundraising dinner at the CityWest Hotel tomorrow night where World Rally Team M-Sport supremo Malcolm Wilson, along with Cork’s Gerard Quinn, head of Ford Motorsport in Europe, and the legendary Rosemary Smith are among the special guests.

Meanwhile, tomorrow’s Cookstown based Go-sponsored Tour of Sperrins, round two of the McGrady Insurance Northern Ireland Rally Championship has more than 100 entries. Former Irish Tarmac champion, Garry Jennings (Subaru WRC) is the top seed as he prepares for next month’s Donegal International Rally.

Garry Jennings and Rory Kenneddy
Garry Jennings and Rory Kenneddy

Opposition is provided by championship leader Derek McGarrity, also in a Subaru WRC and having made an early exit from the Rally of the Lakes, the Glengormley driver will be seeking to stay the full six stages.

Fresh from a fine third in Killarney, Portglenone driver Desi Henry (Skoda Fabia R5) will pose a strong threat even though his car will lack the power of the WRCs. Others include Donegal’s Joe McGonigle (Mini WRC), Tyrone’s Paddy McVeigh (Subaru WRC), Antrim’s Alan Carmichael (Mini WRC), and Derry’s Conor McCloskey (Fiesta R5+). Competition in the two-wheel drive category will be intense with Escorts specialists Camillus Bradley, David Bogie, Ryan Loughran, Marty McCormack, and Wesley Patterson all capable of victory.

One of the longest sponsorship associations in Irish motorsport has ended with Sepam withdrawing their support from the Tipperary Stonethrowers Rally. Through their various companies the Kearney family has been involved with the Tipperary club for around 30 years. This year’s event (August 12) a counter in the Triton Showers National Rally Championship, will now be underpinned by Andrew Fanning Auto Factors.

Elsewhere, the Cavan Forest Rally, due to take place on July 14 has been pulled. Having looked at the available options, organisers of the Valvoline Irish Forest Rally Championship are now proposing that the Cork Forest Rally should become a two-day event, albeit with two independent scoring rounds.


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