No go as snow forces drivers off rally road
For Marty McCormack and William Creighton, the Malcolm Wilson Rally in the Lake District of the north west of England this weekend seemed an ideal event to prepare for the start of the British Championship just across the border in Scotland in a week's time.
But the Beast from the East and Storm Emma put paid to their plans, and the rally was called off earlier in the week.
And ideas of switching to the Tipperary-based Limerick Rally, the second round of the Irish Forestry Championship, were foiled too when it was called off on Thursday evening. The organisers of both events stress their concerns did not so much centre on the crews and rally cars being able to cope with the conditions, but the inability of marshals and rescue crews to attend, especially in such remote areas.
"With road conditions in a very bad way for competitors and marshals to get to the event from all across the country, along with ambulances, doctors and the rescue units, I feel it would be selfish to ask anyone to travel in such conditions," explained Limerick clerk of the course Kieran Ambrose.
The event will now run on March 25, too late for the likes of McCormack and Creighton, along with Marty Gallagher and James Wilson who are part of the Irish group gearing up for the Border Counties Rally on March 10 and the start of the British series.
They had hoped for a competitive shakedown run in the forests before the serious business of challenging for British titles begins in Scotland.
McCormack was Ireland's top finisher in the series last year and will be among the favourites this year in his Tiger Risk Skoda Fabia R5.
In 2017 Creighton was runner-up to another Ulster driver, Callum Devine, in the junior championship, and is expected to be among the major contenders this year for a title McCormack won in 2009 and 2011.
Entries are predicted to be down this year and the Border Rally organisers have reduced the event to one day in an effort to cut costs.
Among those expected to opt out are reigning champion Keith Cronin and runner-up Fredrik Ahlin, as well as two of the leading Ulster drivers, Jonny Greer and Desi Henry, who are targeting the Irish Tarmac Championship instead.
It begins a week later with the West Cork Rally based at Clonakilty.
All Irish motorsport events this weekend have been wiped out by the weather.