Corcoran ponders top award process

Changes to the selection process for next season’s Billy Coleman award are unlikely — even though it is always under review.

Last week’s announcement of the three candidates to vie for this year’s award of €50,000 provoked a wave of criticism on the social media; the process, rather than the selection proving the catalyst for the outburst.

“I have seen some unfortunate comments that were posted,” said Joe Corcoran, the president of Motorsport Ireland.

“At the end of the day I take that as just a knee-jerk reaction. When we look back through the list of people, in the main, the winners have gone on to do well and we should be proud of that.”

Pressed on the possible introduction of a skills test, he added: “It is certainly one for consideration, we have spoken about this before, it’s difficult enough from a rallying point of view. It has a lot running for it if we were to put [it] in place. It is a huge consideration.”

Each year, a club is selected to nominate a member to form part of the interviewing panel. This year’s club was Monaghan, who were drawn from a hat. However, four of the eight nominees were from Monaghan. While nobody doubts the integrity of those involved — the Monaghan Motor Club requested that another club take the representation this time around but no change was made.

“The way that it is set up, the club nominee is one of five, and no matter how you do it, you will have criticism,” said Corcoran. “[However] The criteria for that [club nominee] could certainly be looked at.”

With eight nominees, at best involving eight counties, picking a county with no nominee should not be a major issue. Corcoran agreed the role of mentoring needs to be developed beyond its current status.

Since its inception over a decade ago, much has changed in Irish rallying, particularly the cost factor. The idea of alternate years for the Coleman award and its racing equivalent with a €100,000 prize fund needs to be fast tracked.

Meanwhile, newly crowned Super2000 World Rally champion, Craig Breen has his final outing of the season on the three-day Rallye du Var that begins today. The Waterford ace renews his partnership with French team, Sainteloc Racing, where he is part of three-car team to take on the Provence-based rally.

On what will be his fourth outing with the Saint-Etienne based team, he will campaign a Peugeot 207 S2000. Sixth on his last appearance with the team on Rallye Sanremo, a counting round of the Intercontinental Rally Championship, the Waterford ace was also awarded the Colin McRae Flat Out Trophy on that occasion.

“There are some interesting WRC crews at the head of the field and as I come to the event as S2000 World Champion everyone in this category will want to challenge me,” said Breen, who will be co-driven by Paul Nagle. “This is my final event of this year and I want to close the season with a good performance.”

Breen’s S2000 rivals include Robert Cedric (Peugeot) and David Salanon (Peugeot). Breen isn’t the only Irish driver competing on the 12-stage rally. Triple British Rally champion, Keith Cronin, in the Michael O’Brien supported Citroen DS3, is also racing his final event of the season.

Meanwhile, the Jackson’s Hotel Donegal Rally, taking place tomorrow, is essentially an event confined to members of the Donegal Motor Club. Derry’s Camillus Bradley (Escort) is the top seed followed by Monaghan’s Sam Moffett (Mitsubishi) and Donegal’s Declan Gallagher (Toyota Starlet).

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