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Cork call-off ends hopes of rally return

 

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Daniel Harper

Daniel Harper

Daniel Harper

Hopes of any meaningful rallies taking place in Ireland this year appear to have ended with the cancellation of the Cork '20' International scheduled for the end of September.

Traditionally it is the final round of the Irish Tarmac Championship and although the series had been abandoned some weeks ago because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Cork organisers were optimistic the rally could still run as a stand-alone event as restrictions in the Republic continue to ease.

But after a meeting this week, the Munster Motor Club directors decided, for the long-term future of the rally, to call it off, citing the need to ensure the continuation of the goodwill they receive from the residents who live along the proposed route and the safety of all involved.

It means the Cork '20' joins the West Cork Rally, the Circuit of Ireland, the Rally of the Lakes and the Ulster International as a victim of Covid-19. Of the Tarmac Championship rounds planned for 2020, only the Galway International, won by Alastair Fisher back in February, has taken place.

The Irish National Championship and the Northern Ireland Championship have also been abandoned as has the British Championship, which was scheduled to include the West Cork and Ulster rallies.

The Ulster Automobile Club, organisers of the cancelled Circuit of Ireland, have now called off their Craigantlet Hillclimb event which usually sees Britain's top sprint drivers tackle the historic hill on the outskirts of east Belfast. Off, too, is their Knockagh Hillclimb in September.

Irish racing is due to resume without spectators at Mondello Park at the end of July.

One Irish driver who finally gets to race for real this weekend is Daniel Harper, who makes his debut for the BMW Junior team in the delayed first round of the Nurburgring Endurance series.

The 18-year-old former British Porsche Carrera Cup champion from Hillsborough will share a BMW M240i Racing with team-mates Max Hesse and Neil Verhagen for the 12-hour race tomorrow. Qualifying takes place later this afternoon.

Belfast Telegraph