September at the earliest for motorsport return
The possibility of motorsport returning to the Irish sporting calendar, this year, hangs in the balance despite the government’s recent announcement of its plans to reopen the country.
The ban on major events taking place before August 31 remains in place so the earliest any rally event can take place is in September.
Motor clubs all over the country will be guided by HSE directives before anything will happen but even if the country is fully opened by September other forces will be at play too.
The availability of medical staff, council road closing orders and sponsorship arrangements will all need to be in place weeks before any event will get the green light and a lot these will require meetings and roundtable discussions, currently impossible due to social distancing measures. The feelings of residents along any route will have to be taken on board too as many locals may not be comfortable with a major event arriving on their doorstep withing weeks of the country getting back to some level of normality.
Big events scheduled for September include the Wexford and Clare rallies, and the Cork ‘20’ International Rally, all events that are popular with Kerry drivers and fans.
Munster Car Club, the organiser of the Cork ‘20’ have revealed that they are continuing, behind the scenes, to get their September 26/27 event off the ground despite the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship and The Southern 4 Rally Championship both announcing that their respective championships have been cancelled for the year.
Munster Car Club, at this point, still hope to run a non-championship event in September.
“Internal organisation plans are progressing on the basis that there will be an event,” said Clerk of the Course Kevin O’Riordan. “There’s a lot of things to consider by the club, not least the logistics, pre-planning and then the actual running of the event itself, but the safety and health of everyone will come first – it is paramount.”
As each week passes, the likelihood that any September event getting off the ground gets slimmer, but for now, there is some hope that events might run.
Kerry is line to host two events in November with the eagerly awaited return of Kerry Motor Club’s Kerry Winter Rally on November 8 first on the agenda. The rally has not run since 2017 but KMC officials had already identified a potential route and are also considering using some stages from the postponed Circuit of Kerry as they have already been approved by the various safety delegates.
The Killarney Historic Rally is scheduled for December 5, but Killarney and District Motor Club did put in a request for a date change – to November 28 – to take advantage of slightly longer daylight hours at this time.
However, the request was made just as the current crisis took hold, so neither the club nor Motorsport Ireland officials were able to meet to further discuss the proposal.
No decision has been made by either of the local clubs just yet with both in a position to delay any announcements until late summer.
Like every sport, plans remain very fluid and can change at any given moment with some of the sport’s insiders in County Kerry going as far as saying that it could be next March or April before the sport resumes fully.
This article first appeared in the May 6 issue of The Kerryman. Kerry Motorsport News is the motorsport content provider to The Kerryman.