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Ulster drivers all fired up and ready to sprint back into action after lockdown

 

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Adrian Pollock

Adrian Pollock

Adrian Pollock

Northern Ireland motorsport is gearing up for a tentative return after four months of lockdown.

The 500 Club, owners of the Kirkistown circuit in Co Down, are planning to run their first race meeting of the year on July 25, with a round of the Northern Ireland Sprint Championship taking place a week later.

Both are subject to approval from the Department of Communities at Stormont but circuit manager Richard Young says the signs so far are encouraging.

"We are putting into place all the practices recommended by UK Motorsport, including PPE for the marshals and rescue crews as well as Covid-19 monitors, and the signals coming from Stormont have been good," he said.

"We are keeping our fingers crossed the coronavirus situation remains stable and there won't be a sudden spike which could change everything."

And clearly drivers are bursting to get back on track, with the entry list for the August 1 round of the S W Adair Tyres Sprint Championship quickly exceeding the maximum 100 starters.

They include 2019 champion Adrian Pollock, who again led the series this year after two rounds in his single-seater Dallara before it was suspended, and second-placed Oliver Cormican, as well as last year's Championship runner-up Steven Gault and three-time champion Simon Woodside.

With rallying still under lockdown on these shores, several drivers more usually seen on special stages, including multi-champion Kenny McKinstry and daughter Emma, are in the sprint entry list. Indeed, it includes four World Rally cars and three from the R5 category.

The race meeting a week earlier clashes with the two-day event scheduled for Mondello to get motorsport in the Republic up and running again, which is likely to affect entry numbers, but Young says this may not be such a bad thing.

"It could help us see that the plans we have put in place are working and make any adjustments necessary," he said.

No spectators will be allowed into the circuit for either event.

Belfast Telegraph