London-based Kerry crews hopeful of Belgian runs – travel restrictions notwithstanding

There will be a massive Kerry presence in Belgium next month if the resumption of the sport gets the go ahead there.

The Belgian motorsport authorities have given the green light for three events spread across two different weekends in late June and London-based Kerry competitors have entered all three.

However, a lot will depend on government guidelines regarding travel between Britain and Belgium.

All events in Belgium are run to strict COVID-19 regulations and currently Belgium is on the Amber List for UK residents, and the Red List for Ireland residents

First up is Rally von Wervik on June 11 and 12.

Killarney man and London Irish Motor Club chairman Mick Smith has placed an entry for this event in his historic-spec Chrysler Avenger. The last event he contested in the same car was the 2019 Killarney Historic Rally which was the last rally to go ahead on Kerry before the pandemic set in.

He will be joined on the entry list by fellow LIMC member rally Hilliard. The Listowel man hoped to make his Belgian debut last season but a last-minute change in event regulations meant that overseas crews were not allowed start the Monteberg Rally in August. Hilliard will use his Ford Escort Mk1 in Wervik.

Co-driver Shane Buckley is also on the entry list and will compete alongside Anthony O’Brien in a Mitsubishi Lancer E10.

Smith, who has considerable Belgian experience, while being mindful of the restrictions, is enjoying his role as intermediate point of contact between the Belgian organisers and members of London Irish Motor Club.

“So many times, things change because of this COVID-19,” he said. “While our entries are accepted we won’t be doing anything else, like booking ferries or hotels, until we have a clearer picture, there is no point in spending money we might not get back.”

Two weeks later the Monteberg Rally and the Ypres Historic Rally take place over the same roads.

The former event is open to modern rally cars and is scheduled for Sunday June 27. The historic event runs alongside the main rally but clever use of road closing orders mean that both rallies take place at the same time and over the same roads but are, essentially, two very different events.

All three Kerry competitors have secured entries for these two events. Smith and Hilliard will contest the historic section

However, O’Brien and Buckley are already committed to the Argyll Rally in Scotland which takes place on June 25 and 26 and will, most likely, forfeit their place on the second Belgian event as a result.

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