Boss gets refresher at Stonethrowers

ALEX SINCLAIR, chief executive of Motorsport Ireland, has urged the bosses of GAA, soccer and rugby to be directly involved at the grassroots of their sport.

On Sunday, Sinclair will be the chief steward at the Clonmel-based Sepam Tipperary Stonethrowers Rally, where he will be joined by full-time Motorsport Ireland (MI) employee Claire Gunning for the nine-stage event.

“All CEOs should be involved on the ground at events along with the volunteers, it is very important,” said Sinclair.

The MI personnel target one event each year to act as stewards, a role normally filled by club officials from a region other than that of the organising club.

“We pick one event per year to keep an eye in and see what it’s like at the coal face. As an observer, you are not faced with the responsibility, it’s an overall exercise, a question of understanding and having a feel forissues, it’s an evolving process.”

Neither Sinclair nor Gunning attend other rally events for the rest of the season.

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland’s Connor McCloskey is the top seed and drives the only world rally car amongst the entry in a mix of Group N and Modified cars in Tipperary. Former Dunlop Group N champion Alan Ring (Mitsubishi) is using the rally as a tune up for his outing in the Ulster Rally, the next round of the Irish Tarmac series.

Fellow Kerry driver Eamonn Daly, also in a Mitsubishi, has only made sporadic appearances this season and may suffer as a result. Wexford’s James Stafford will be hoping for dry weather to maximise the output of his Darrian.

Notable for his quick start, Enniskillen’s Mark Donnelly (Renault Clio) is well capable of a top-three finish.

The battle between Craig Breen and Robert Barrable, the respective former and current Billy Coleman award winners, should be interesting, although Breen is keen to play down the contest. On Sunday, both will campaign Class Six cars — a Fiesta R2 in Breen’s case and a Citroen C2R2 for Barrable.

They then face each other at the IRC’s Czech Rally in Zlin at the end of the month when they will drive their S2000 cars, with Barrable having full backing from Skoda Ireland.

It will be the first time he will compete against Breen in similar cars since they both contested the Irish Fiesta Sporting Trophy series in 2008, where Breen took the title.

The remainder of the top 10 features the Group N Subaru pair of Stephen Cullen, Brian O’Keeffe and Shay Power (Ford Escort). Elsewhere, there are entries from James Coleman, David Armstrong (Ford Escorts), Josh Moffett (Mitsubishi), Paddy O’Dwyer (Vauxhall Nova), Citroen C2 pair Desmond Henry and Kieran Daly along with Andrew Fanning (Ford Puma).

The stages for next week’s Mallow-based Cork Forest Rally are close to the villages of Killavullen, Bweeng, Banteer and Doneraile, with Forest champion Pat O’Connell set to compete again.

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