A spokesperson for the Killarney and District Motor Club said that while the stages over which the rally is due to run do not present a problem, their concern is the difficulty competitors may have in getting to the venue.
The club are being assisted by the local authorities in gritting parts of some stages, however, should the conditions of the stages deteriorate, the club may make a few changes to the event format.
With entries not as high as previous years, the club has a degree of latitude especially with the Moll’s Gap and Liberty Hall stages — the respective first and last stages. The one stage that may become problematic is Borlin as it requires more safety bales and barriers than any of the other stages.
The club will adopt a “wait and see” policy before making any changes, they have the option of repeating Moll’s Gap directly after the opening run, while the stage at Liberty Hall close to Kenmare has a similar flexibility at the end of the rally. The spokesperson added that crews may have to be prepared to be flexible so as to allow a re-jigging of the schedule. Ultimately of course, the rally depends of the whether or not the rescue services can be deployed.
All going to plan, Galway’s, Ray Cunningham (Mini Cooper) will lead the Historic category as he defends his title against fellow top seeds, Philip Wylie (MGB), Mervyn Johnston (Austin Mini), Aaron Tracey (Austin Cooper S) and Aidan Kennedy (Austin Mini Cooper S).
The event — divided into four categories — has local ace, Ed Murphy (Ford Escort) heading the Post Historic entry that also includes James Sutherland (Porsche 911), Ray Hilliard (Ford Escort RS1600), Owen Murphy (Avenger) and Mike Doody (Morris Mini). Last year’s winner of the Classic section, Diarmuid Lynch (Ford Escort) defends his crown against Alan Courtney (Porsche), Donie McCarthy (Opel Manta) and Denis Hickey (Ford Escort).
As ever, there is keen interest in the Modified category as Kerry driver, Mike Quinn faces fellow Escort aces, Wesley Patterson, Pat Donegan, Lloyd Hutchinson, James Cassidy and Charlie Hickey (Austin Cooper).
The opening stage at Moll’s Gap is set to start at 8.33am followed by stages at Borlin, Glengarriff Wood and Bonane prior to a service halt in Kenmare. With the exception of Moll’s Gap, the stages are repeated with another stage, Liberty Hall (3.39pm) bringing the event to a conclusion. Rally headquarters is at the Brook Lane Hotel, Kenmare. Also on Sunday, the Carlow Rallysprint at Kiltorcan, starts 10.30am.
Tomorrow’s Grizedale Rally in Scotland has been cancelled due to the weather conditions, however, Sunday’s, Galloway Hills Rally goes ahead as planned. This week’s Senior Officials Training Course that was cancelled due to weather conditions has been rescheduled for January 20th. at the City North Hotel, just off the M1.
Motorsport Ireland chief executive Alex Sinclair remains hopeful that funding from the Sports Council will not be cut in next week’s budget. In 2010, MI received €143,000. The monies are distributed between the two major award schemes — the Young Racing and Rally Driver schemes, each getting €25,000; €12,000 is allotted to sporting individuals; €10,000 is divided equally amongst the four clubs that host International rallies, €1,500 to the participants of the Ken Wharton Autotest. Approximately, €70,000 is utilised for administration, support and training. While rallying clubs donate €500 each to the Billy Coleman award scheme (they are allowed recoup the fee through extra entry fees), racing clubs do not make a contribution as it is covered by award sponsor, Dunlop. It is interesting to note that while organisers of the International events each receive €2,500, organisers of national championship events get no funding even though the entry for both events are broadly similar.
Meanwhile, Sinclair added that MI (along with Turkey) has received a silver medal for Motorsport Safety from the FIA Institute. Australia and Britain received gold medals and China was presented with a bronze medal.