Governing body miss target with Eastwood

Little over a year ago, Irish karting was hitting the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

A breakaway group, Kart Ireland, threatened to go it alone after they claimed Motorsport Ireland had reneged on a deal to heal divisions within the karting spectrum of the governing body.

Costs, publicity, fairness and transparency were the principal issues. Internally within Motorsport Ireland (MI), the composition of the Karting committee was the catalyst that spawned the breakaway group.

In the end, Kart Ireland decided not to go ahead with their own plans, opting instead to see how MI were going to develop karting.

For their part, MI announced they had agreed a two-year plan (2012-13) for the future of karting in their jurisdiction, including an investment of €25,000 each year. At the time, Alex Sinclair, MI chief executive, admitted karting was overly complicated and hugely expensive. Throughout the whole debacle, MI never wavered and made it quite clear, irrespective of Kart Ireland’s plans, that they would run a national championship.

The lack of publicity was one of Kart Ireland’s main concerns, however MI were quite adamant that karting would be well promoted within the media.

Unfortunately, that part of the package wasn’t delivered during this season. Just last weekend, licence holder Charlie Eastwood won a world title in Portugal. Yet, it took until midday yesterday for it to be acknowledged on Motorsport Ireland’s own website. The Irish Examiner understands that Eastwood’s success was brought to the attention of MI by the Eastwood family themselves.

From Belfast, they have been synonymous with Irish karting for decades. Charlie took on and beat the world’s best in a thrilling final in Portimao that also included Cork karter Shane Daly. Unfortunately, the Charleville ace was bumped off on the final lap as Eastwood took the chequered flag.

Karting should benefit from Eastwood’s success but if the governing body are not promoting one of their stars, how secure is the future of that branch of motorsport?

With former karter Craig Breen landing the S2000 WRC title, karting should be on a real high right now but that is not the case.

Eastwood has since received many messages of congratulations, although has had no direct contact from his governing body.

At the outset, the Belfast lad, along with fellow MI licence holders Shane Daly of Cork, Dubliner Martin Pierce (who was fifth in the Masters Class) and Magherafelt’s Gary Donnelly, although competing as individuals, were also representing their governing body. Yet, they received no pre-event publicity and the coverage after the fact was only concerned with Eastwood’s exploits.

MI’s investment in karting will, by their own admission, cost them €50,000 over two years but last week, ironically, a world title cost them nothing.

Meanwhile, Irish driver Joe Reynolds joined the likes of Sebastien Loeb and Sebastien Vettel on the FIA’s honours list this year as he secured his second successive FIA Trophy for Historic Regularity Rallies.

The Kildare driver topped the standings by two points from Monaco driver Raffaello Raimondo after winning four of the 10 events in the 2012 season and finishing eight of the nine events he raced throughout the year.

The Carbery Navigation Trial that begins from the West Cork village of Ballinascarthy tomorrow night is a counting round of the Munster Navigation Trial series and the Carbery Plastics Skibbereen & District Car Club Championship.

The 80-mile route, that begins from the local community hall at 11.30pm is based on Ordnance Survey Sheet 86 (third edition).

With two rounds completed in the Munster series, Colin Duffy and Sam Johnston are the leading crew, although just six points cover the top six crews.

Next year’s Quality Hotel West Cork Rally (March 16/17) is set for a number of changes to its usual format. In a bid to reduce costs to competitors, the organisers are reducing the number of stages from 16 to 12.

Each day of the event will have a loop of three stages repeated twice, while Saturday’s action will not get under way until 1pm with the finish set for 3.30pm on Sunday afternoon. According to the organising club, the Cork Motor Club, some of the classic stages will be revisited.

The Safety Direct Galway International Rally, the opening round of the 2013 Irish Tarmac series, will offer 50% bonus points. The event, based on a triple run over a loop of three stages centred around Ballinasloe, is the second round of the 2013 Irish Historic Rally Championship.

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