Cash key to return of WRC’s Irish round

ALTHOUGH senior officials of Motorsport Ireland (MI) met with FIA vice-president Mohammed Ben Sulayem last week, a return for Rally Ireland as a round of the World Rally Championship is still based on the availability of finance.

Autosport magazine claim Ireland’s chances of returning to the World Rally Championship calendar have improved in the wake of a positive meeting between Ben Sulayem and the Sligo-based Senator, Marc MacSharry. However, this comes against the backdrop of documents filed with the Companies Office last month in respect of WRC Promotions, who ran Rally Ireland in 2009.

In the submission, the directors of WRC Promotions, that includes MI president, Joe Corcoran, Austin Fraser, Ronnie Trouton and John Naylor, state: “The possibility of returning Rally Ireland to its former status as a round of the FIA World Rally Championship now appears remote. Consequently the directors will consider what benefits exist now or in the future by continuing to trade.

“Since the year end (April 2010), the directors have carried out a going concern review of the business with the view to assessing its ability to continue trading. The company currently continue to meet its debts as they fall due and the directors have taken steps to return the company to profitability so as to enable the company to continue trading as a going concern.”

The accumulated losses for the company amount to €145,164.

Ben Sulayem visited the north of Ireland on other business last week and a MI availed of the opportunity to meet him.

Corcoran, along with MI chief executive Alex Sinclair, discussed matters relating to the FIA Institute and how to promote young talent. Corcoran is under no illusion about a swift return to the WRC.

“The economy has to turn the corner and it will depend on the availability of finance. However, it is important we maintain the links. The possibility of holding an FIA committee meeting in Ireland is much more realistic.”

It appears MacSharry is keen to get Rally Ireland back to the WRC fold as soon as 2012. In approximately three months’ time, WRC promoter, North One Sport will present the 2012 calendar to the World Motor Sport Council. MacSharry’s efforts are to be commended — even if it is viewed in some quarters as political opportunism — but why is he the sole advocate of the cause?

There was considerable overpricing of accommodation in Sligo, both in 2007 for the inaugural round of the WRC and also in 2009 that angered many participants and fans.

Should Rally Ireland return to the WRC, there is no guarantee Sligo will be the base. Already, there are suggestions that a Dublin/Belfast link would be more beneficial and also continue the cross-border link for funding — that, in 2009, amounted to a total of some €2m. A Cork/Kerry location is another possible suggestion and would give the event much better rallying terrain.

A more suitable date, somewhere in midsummer, where the scenic value is at its highest, is also important.

Apparently, MacSharry is trying to gather support to mount a bid for Sligo to host a World Motor Sport Council meeting next year and the prestigious FIA General Assembly and prizegiving in 2013.

Meanwhile, Motorsport Ireland are set to tighten up regulations for one-make championships in 2011. The move follows problems with a prize for one of the 2009 championships that has yet to be honoured,

MI president Corcoran is hopeful a resolution will be found.

Applications are made via the MI-affiliated clubs, and where there are monetary prizes, a bond is put in place. Where prizes previously consisted of a free entry and accommodation and other such items, no guarantee was sought. This will be rectified in 2011 to copper-fasten issues.

As of now, it appears that the Citroen C2R2 series is likely to be the sole one-make series in 2011.

Billy Coleman award winner, Robert Barrable, will know within days if he will contest the 2011 British Rally Championship in a Skoda Fabia S2000. The Swords ace travelled to the Czech Republic last week but was unable to test a Skoda Super 2000 due to the inclement weather conditions. A subsequent test with a Mitsubishi in Donegal also fell victim to the poor weather.

The final round of the Jerry Murphy Tyres Munster Autocross Championship takes place in Cronin’s Quarry, Ladysbridge. The event, on December 27 next, will he hosted by Cork Motor Club.

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