Clubs set to receive proposals on ‘Way Forward’

THE affiliated clubs of Motorsport Ireland are set to receive the Way Forward document, hot on the heels of the governing body’s General Code of Conduct contained in this month’s Motorsport Bulletin.

There is considerable crossover in both, a fact endorsed by the president of Motorsport Ireland (MI), Joe Corcoran.

“Yes, there is, the same committee is involved,” he said. “It’s a discussion document to go to the clubs, I’m very happy with the work to date.”

At a highly-charged meeting in Portlaoise at the end of last season that threatened the future of rallying, it was eventually agreed that there would be a “root and branch review” of the sport examining all aspects, including proportional representation for rallying at commission level and a seat at the higher level for rallying personnel. A progress document was to be issued by the end of March followed by a reconvened meeting.

MI went on to select a sub-committee to develop the Way Forward document. Although there was no progress document or reconvened meeting, the document is now likely to generate strong debate.

According to the MI bulletin, it appears there will not be any “massive changes” to the current competition rules, constitution and implementing structures. The move to independence of Motorsport Ireland from the RIAC — which was torpedoed by last year’s unrest, stemming from the aftermath of the Donegal International Rally — is set to go ahead. The executive council is no longer required but the Irish Motorsport Federation will continue; proposals of its formation have yet to be revealed.

It remains to be seen how the Way Forward document will deal with officials that refuse to carry out their duties. While not wishing to comment on specific issues, Corcoran said: “I don’t believe that anybody should try to hold me or any other party in the sport to ransom.

“Rather that revisiting anything in the past, what I have to do is to ensure that the proposals that are being worked on right now carry us through and give a good grounding and structure. We have to get everybody to move on, certainly, there are people that are going to have to stand up and be counted and do exactly what they should be doing.”

In relation to the use of the media as a method of exerting additional pressure towards an outcome, Corcoran confirmed that he wasn’t aware of any particular instance where this has occurred. The document is likely to be discussed at the annual meeting of club officials with the rallies committee and members of Motorsport Ireland, scheduled for Portlaoise on Wednesday next.

Pat O’Connell (Mitsubishi) can clinch the Petro Systems Irish National Forest Championship in tomorrow’s Mallow-based Jim Walsh Cork Forest Rally, the penultimate round of the series.

The Cashel driver has a 24-point advantage over his title adversary, Dubliner John Reid (Toyota Corolla WRC). Maximum points on the eight-stage event will be enough to secure the title. Owen Murphy (Mitsubishi) will be expected to give a strong performance; the Ovens driver will relish a battle with the championship duo along with Fermanagh’s Ian Cochrane (Subaru).

Limerick’s James Murphy (Escort WRC) and the Mk 2 Escorts of Frank Kelly and Adrian Hetherington are all seeded in the top seven. Although seeded at eight, John McLaughlin (Mitsubishi) is a non-starter. Jeremy Drislane (Subaru) and Mallow’s Sarah Moynihan, who will debut an N11 Subaru, complete the top 10.

Other entries include Christy Carey (Mitsubishi) and the Escort pair of James Coleman and Shay Power.

Irish driver, Craig Breen takes part in the northern European section of the Pirelli Star Driver Shootout, which is being staged in conjunction with tomorrow’s Snapphane Rally in Sweden.

The Billy Coleman award winner faces drivers from Finland, Norway, Sweden, Germany and Great Britain. Points will be awarded for each of the event’s five gravel stages.

The top two drivers will go forward to take part in the Global Qualifying Shootout later in the year.

Meanwhile, one of the most popular administrators of Irish Motorsport, Wilf Fitzsimmons (98) was laid to rest on Tuesday last.

During his tenure at the RIAC offices in Dawson Street, Dublin, he was most accommodating and in the pre-computer era, he was hugely efficient to both club officials and licence holders. May he rest in peace.

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