Fixture pile-up must be addressed

At first glance, the Irish motorsport calendar is a list of more than 220 events at various locations involving several spectrums of the sport.

The composition of the fixtures is a delicate balancing act that has to please most, if not all, of its affiliated clubs.

Given the current climate, there are probably too many rallies, ironically, which make up the most popular branch of the sport. While there is no rally on the Motorsport Ireland calendar for this weekend, there are two next weekend and in addition, another rally in Down. Within the context of Motorsport Ireland, next weekend’s Sligo Rally on Saturday and the Tipperary Forest Rally on Sunday is placing a burden on services.

Radio operators, tyre suppliers and ancillary services have to journey overnight from Sligo to Mitchelstown.

“There is no logical explanation to hand, but I’m sure there is one,” said Alex Sinclair, chief executive of Motorsport Ireland.

President Joe Corcoran, who is a member of the Sligo club, stated it was “crazy” and promised the situation will be revisited in 2013.

For the most part, events have their traditional dates. The Sligo Rally is always held on the same weekend each year, switching to Saturday in recent times. The Tipperary club normally holds a Hillclimb event, but with changes to the Valvoline Forest series, they opted to run their rally next weekend. Like last week’s Raven’s Rock Rally, it’s a round of the Triton Showers South East Rally Championship and such events must be a minimum of two weeks apart, hence it cannot be held this weekend.

At the end of next month (July 28), the Imokilly Motor Club are holding their first ever closed road event, a single stage rally. Maybe if the Tipperary forest event ran on July 28 and the Imokilly event this weekend, the dilemma would have been avoided. Clubs are very protective of dates but they must also act responsibly.

Meanwhile, Quinn Body Repairs and the Sligo Park Hotel will, once again, underpin the Sligo Rally, the fact that the Down Rally is also on tarmac and on the same day, will impinge on number of entries they will attract. The Tipperary Forest Rally is also jointly sponsored with the Firgrove Hotel and Myers Maxol providing support.

In motor racing, the Pony Express Formula Vee Championship continues at Mondello Park on Sunday with round seven of the campaign.

Last time out, Ray Moore took the chequered flag to move to within 10 points of series leader, Lee Newsome. There are also races in Ginetta Juniors, Strykers and Legends and Formula Libre.

Cork racer Matt Griffin participates with the AF Corse team in the third round of the Blancpain Endurance series at the Paul Ricard Circuit in Le Castellet, France.

Also on Sunday, the Munster Autocross series continues with the Skibbereen & District Car Club’s Loose Surface Autocross at Campbell’s Pit, Grancore, Clonakilty at 11.30am.

The Irish Tarmac Championship now appears to be a straight contest between current leader, Darren Gass and Garry Jennings, winner of the recent Topaz Donegal International Rally winner, who is still likely to continue his bid to win the Valvoline Irish Forest Rally series. Within the last eight months, the Fermanagh man has now completed a notable treble in Donegal. Last October and for the second year in succession, he won the Donegal Harvest Rally — driving a Mitsubishi. Last January, he took his Subaru 555 to victory in the Donegal Forest Rally. He is the first driver to have won all three events.

In the ITC, Gass has 71 points with Jennings on 63, with dropped scores taken into consideration, Gass is 10 points ahead with a maximum of 52 points on offer in the last two rounds: the Ulster and the Cork “20”.

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