Belfast Telegraph

Sligo Rally postponed due to melting roads in new first for motorsport

 

By Sammy Hamill

Earlier this year it was excessive snow which led to rallies being cancelled — now it is the extreme heat.

Sunday’s fourth round of the Irish National Championship, the Sligo Rally, has been called off because of the dangers posed by the tarmac roads melting in these exceptional conditions.

The west of Ireland in particular has seen tar melting on many roads, and gritters — which usually only appear during the winter — are being used in some areas to spray the surface.

And with no sign of the weather changing, the organising Connacht Club decided it was too risky to go ahead with Sunday’s round of the championship which is, ironically, sponsored by Triton Showers.

“It is disappointing but it is the correct decision,” said Robert Lyttle, clerk of the course.

“We have a very good relationship with the Sligo County Council, an Garda Síochána, the emergency services and the residents along the rally route.

“It is paramount for our club that we continue to protect all those relationships. Indeed, we will be working with all concerned to explore our options.”

It is believed to be the first time a round of the championship has been called off because of hot weather although some years ago the final three stages of the same rally were cancelled in similar circumstances.

The Connacht Club meet tonight and hope to come up with an alternative date — possibly as early as July 15.

Declan Boyle, a two-time national champion, is the current leader of the series and was scheduled to head the Sligo entry list in his WRC Ford Fiesta.

Meanwhile, the Rainbow Communications Loughgall Rally goes ahead on Saturday.

The six-stage event uses the tarmac drives of the scenic Loughgall Country Park and the entry list is headed by Damien Toner, winner for the past two years in his Ford Escort.

The line-up also includes last year’s runner-up John Bradley, Camillus Bradley and David Armstrong, all in Escorts.

Belfast Telegraph

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