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Double blow as Lurgan Park Rally and Circuit Challenge cancelled

By Sammy Hamill

One of Northern Ireland's most popular motorsport events, the Lurgan Park Rally, will not take place this year because of "a number of obstacles too difficult to overcome", the organisers have announced.

And cancelled, too, is the International Circuit Challenge, a two-day rally in the east Antrim area scheduled for early next month. It was to be a stop-gap event, bridging the void until the European Championship Circuit of Ireland returns next year.

Lurgan Park was not available this year for the North Armagh club's traditional mid-summer date and plans were being made to switch to May 20. But rising costs and the danger of bad weather in spring has forced the cancellation.

Motor club director William Fullerton explained: "We face an ever increasing cost of meeting health and safety standards and this, combined with the potential bill for repairing the grounds should it happen to be a wet event, we feel is too big a risk to take."

They intend to run a clubman's rally on the May date at a different venue.

Circuit of Ireland director Bobby Willis said he was "desperately disappointed" to have to call off the April 7/8 Circuit Challenge which would have featured 30 invited drivers in R5 cars.

Despite support from Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, he cited funding and timing difficulties linked to the on-going stalemate at Stormont and the fact government departments have not been allocated budgets as the cause of the cancellation.

Willis said other elements of the Circuit Festival will go ahead at Ballymena Showgrounds.

Belfast Telegraph

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