| 12.2°C Belfast

Irish motorsport scene eyes gradual return



Formula One races are scheduled for Austria next month

Formula One races are scheduled for Austria next month

PA Archive/PA Images

Formula One races are scheduled for Austria next month

Motorsport is taking its first tentative steps out of lockdown with World Rally Championship teams allowed to resume testing today and Formula One races scheduled for Austria next month.

But in Ireland, north and south, there is little likelihood any events will be held before August and any that do take place will initially be staged at single venues with no spectators allowed.

Rallying will be the last to re-start, although organisers of the Cork '20' International, which was to be the final round of the abandoned Irish Tarmac Championship, remain hopeful they will be able to stage their event at the end of September.

"We are still on track to reopen some disciplines once we have reached Phase 4 [of the Irish Government's lockdown instructions] on July 20 and, with everything going according to plan, rallying can potentially recommence once we reach Phase 5 on August 10," said a Motorsport Ireland spokesperson.

"However, both dates rely on the country achieving the goals set out by the Government."

All motorsport in the United Kingdom is currently suspended until June 30 but the governing body is aiming to lift the ban on Saturday, July 4 with the caveat that "any resumption is contingent on event organisers demonstrating that they can plan in accordance with the 'Getting Back on Track' guidelines of Motorsport UK, while respecting government guidance on social distancing."

It should mean the British Touring Car Championship can start in early August with a revised scheduled and races being staged on back-to-back weekends.

The first of these is listed for Donington Park on the weekend of August 1/2, when Colin Turkington will begin the defence of his title.

And with Formula One expected to resume with two races in Austria on July 5 and 12, there is growing expectation that Silverstone could host two rounds in early August after the British government indicated it would waive its 14-day quarantine rules for arrivals into the UK.

The management of the British Rally Championship has stubbornly refused to call it off, sticking to the hope it can take place if four rounds are added to the one event which has taken place, the Cambrian Rally, back in February.

Much depends, however, on the Belgian government allowing the Ypres Rally to take place on a new date in August.

The government in Finland has given permission for WRC teams to begin testing from today ahead of the series restarting with Rally Finland on August 6/8.

Belfast Telegraph