Karting put the brakes on breakaway

A PLANNED split from Motorsport Ireland by Irish karting has been put on hold. Discussions between both parties could lead to a solution that will bring this spectrum of the sport back on track and remain within the remit of Motorsport Ireland (MI).

At last week’s final kart race of the season in Kartworld, Watergrasshill, a brochure, entitled Kart Ireland outlined the aims of the new organisation in terms of safety, fair play and promotion.

The document provoked the opening of dialogue between MI and the karting fraternity. Within the last few days, sensitive discussions between both groups have begun that could lead to a quick and positive solution. However, the question has to be asked, why has it taken what seems like a rebellion to highlight the demise of karting within Motorsport Ireland?

In 2002, 328 licences were issued for karting. Last year, that figure was 183, a shocking decline given the fact that the overall number of licences issued were 4186 in 2002 and 4,030 in 2010.

A drop of 56% is a staggering statistic but the fact that nothing has been done to prevent the decline is even more astonishing. Unlike rallying, promoted by almost all of the Motorsport Ireland affiliated clubs, there are only four or five clubs involved in the promotion of karting. Amazingly, the Karting Committee within MI is comprised of 10 individuals — five of whom are representatives of the Motorsport Commission.

Back in the late 1990s, karting was hugely popular and gained relative media coverage but the supply of information has stopped.

Karting was always viewed as the breeding ground for racing and rallying, drivers like Michael Keohane, Craig Breen, Brian O’Mahony and the late Neil Shanahan.

Last weekend in Cork, Dubliner, Richie Faulkner clinched the Motorsport Ireland Rotax-Max Championship, as a result, he will contest the World Championships in Abu Dhabi. Yet, there was no promotion material issued. It is easy to understand the concerns and indeed, frustrations of the teams and competitors that has spawned the planned breakaway.

“There is always a group that would like to do something else, we are talking to all concerned,” said Motorsport Ireland president, Joe Corcoran.

“There are a lot of good people in the group. They have a lot of good ideas and I’m hopeful a solution can be found.”

The Sligo official is confident the matter will be sorted within two to three weeks, the Irish Examiner understands another meeting between the two groups is planned for next week.

A few years ago, a revolt in rallying almost brought that element of the sport to its knees. Sadly, karting is already at that level. A reduction in the number of personnel in the Karting Committee and regular communication with teams are basic prerequisites.

Meanwhile, Ennniskerry’s, Danny Barry (Mitsubishi) is the leading entry for Sunday’s Germaine’s of Baltinglass Rally organised by the Garda Síochána Motor Club. The former Mitsubishi Evo Challenge winner took victory in this event the last time it was held in 2009. This time around, Clonmel’s Roy White (MG S2000), James Stafford (Darrian), Tommy Doyle (Renault Clio) and Thomas Fitzmaurice (Mitsubishi) provide the opposition.

The Motorsport Ireland Rallycross Championship begins in Mondello Park on Sunday. In racing at Brands Hatch, qualifying for the 40th anniversary Formula Ford Festival begins tomorrow with the final on Sunday.

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