Belfast Telegraph

McCormack title dream ended by cuts

By Sammy Hamill

He was just about everyone’s favourite to win this year’s British rally championship but Marty McCormack won’t even be in the line-up when the series kicks off with the Sunseeker Rally this weekend.

McCormack was the driver of the year in last season’s championship, winning the Formula 2 category, taking the British junior title and becoming the first driver for more than a decade to score maximum overall points in a round of the series in a two-wheel-drive car.

It was supposed to be a prelude to McCormack challenging for the main British title when the championship switched to a two-wheel-drive only format this year.

Instead, the 25-year-old Draperstown driver has been sidelined, a victim of the decision by the French PSA Group, which owns Citroen and Peugeot, to slash their motorsport budgets.

The Peugeot World Endurance championship sportscar programme was suddenly axed, there is to be minimal involvement in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge series and the vast majority of resources are being reserved for the World rally championship team.

“The cuts came out of the blue,” commented McCormack last night.

“Last year was supposed to be an exercise in seeing how the DS3 Citroen would perform in the British championship with a view to going for the overall title when the ban on four-wheel-drive cars came in this season.

“I had been led to believe there would be backing from Citroen Sport and Citroen UK for me to do the series in a DS3 with one of the French teams, probably Sainteloc Racing who ran the car for me last year.

“But now I’ve been told there is no money available.

“With the cutbacks someone like me is pretty far down the food chain,” McCormack explained.

“It is really disappointing. Without the backing of Citroen it is impossible for me to find the money to run a car like the DS3 at British championship level.

“Maybe I did my job too well last year,” he added.

“There could be as many as five DS3s in the championship this year, so it looks like they decided they don’t need me.”

The Bournemouth-based Sunseeker event will see five other Irish drivers in action.

They are Mark Donnelly, Alastair Fisher, Desi Henry, Matthew Cathcart and two-time British champion Keith Cronin.

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