Fifteen months since the last rally took place in Northern Ireland, the regional government has finally give permission for a return to the stages this month. The McGrady Insurance Stages Rally at Bishopscourt was the last event to happen here back in March 2020. Ironically that same rally, organised by Ballynahinch and District MC, will kick-start the new season. The Bishopscourt Stages Rally on Sat.19th June will be round one of the 2021 McGrady Insurance Motorsport UK Northern Ireland Rally Championship.
Although spectators will not be permitted to attend the Bishopscourt event, it is hoped that by the time of the second round of the championship in August, all remaining coronavirus restrictions will have been lifted. Under current government guidelines regarding COVID-19, a maximum of 500 competitors and officials will be allowed at the first event, social distancing must be observed. All the Bishopscourt Stages regulations are available on the Ballynahinch MC website.
As I revealed last month, the 2021 NI Rally Championship will consist of five tarmac stage rallies taking place between June and November. The dates of these events remain the same as I indicated in May’s RallyBuzz.
In addition to the NI Championship, plans are being finalised to run two classic gravel rallies in September. The Lakeland Stages organised by Enniskillen MC is scheduled for Saturday 4th while Omagh Motor Club’s Bushwacker Rally is due to take place on Saturday 18th. Further details of these events, with regard to marshalling etc, will follow when they become available.
I was shocked to hear of the sudden death last month of my very good friend Danny Gormley. He became Clerk of the Course of the Donegal International Rally from 2006-2011 and remained as a senior official on the event until 2019.
Danny was the rally’s Chief Timekeeper from 1999 until 2002 and it was during that time that I first got to know him. He became my contact with regard to providing a team of timekeepers for the classic mid-summer three day event based in Letterkenny.
Danny’s partner Elizabeth Devine took over as Chief Timekeeper in 2003 with much encouragement and support from Danny as he moved on to become one of the main organisers of the rally. Elizabeth continued in the roll for an unbelievable 17 years, until the last running to date of the Donegal International Rally in 2019.
Danny Gormley was the perfect gentleman, and always had a word for all marshals and officials. Indeed he went out of his way to make sure we were all well looked after on his events. As well as being a director and senior official of Donegal Motor Club he was also a director and long-time treasurer of Derry’s Maiden City Motor Club.
Although he moved on to become a senior official, timekeeping remained Danny’s first love and he was responsible for introducing electronic timing equipment to both Donegal and Maiden City events. Danny stored and maintained the equipment himself, supplying, delivering and even operating this state of the art timing technology when it was used on many events throughout Ireland.
In 2007 the World Rally Championship came to Ireland for the first time. As Chief Timekeeper I had no hesitation in putting Danny Gormley and his team on the start of Special Stage One. A report in Autosport magazine described the expertise in which the timing controls were operated as first class, especially as this was a new event. In fact Rally Ireland was awarded second best event on the 2007 WRC calendar! That event would not have been the success it was without Danny Gormley and all the other volunteers who helped me with the time controls over four challenging days in November 2007. Indeed we all returned to repeat the exercise in January 2009.
If the Donegal International Rally returns next year following a two-year break due to the devastating coronavirus pandemic,“the best rally in Ireland” will be missing one of its most dedicated and influential officials. That man is the irreplaceable Danny Gormley. He was definitely a one off and I am privileged to have been able to call him my friend.
To Elizabeth, his brothers and sisters and the wider family circle, I wish to pass on heartfelt condolences from myself and all of us in BMMC/BRMC Northern Ireland.
Round one of the five-round McGrady Insurance Motorsport UK N.I. Rally Championship. Organised by Ballynahinch and District MC. Contact the organisers with regard to officiating. Current COVID-19 restrictions apply. No spectators will be permitted. A maximum entry of 100 cars are due to start the six-stage 100% sealed surface event. In fact entries were full and closed early having been open for just five days on rallyscore.net It would appear that everyone wants to get back out on the stages. Check out the seeded entry list when it becomes available on rallyscore.net
Round two of the N.I. Rally Championship. Organised by Maiden City MC. The Dogleap takes place at the Shackleton Airfield complex in Ballykelly, Co. Derry. Hopefully most COVID-19 restrictions will be eased by then. If not, any existing restrictions will apply. We will possibly be asked to provide marshals and other officials on the day. More information will be available later.
Round three of the N.I. Rally Championship. Organised by North Armagh MC. NOT based at Kirkistown as I indicated last month, but centred in Loughgall Country Park, County Armagh. There will be stages within the park plus a closed-road test nearby. Again more details will be announced in the coming months.
Rallying as a discipline was given the green light earlier this month, and now Motorsport UK has created a guidance video to help everyone understand the changes we have to undertake. Here is a link to the video:- ReturnToTheStages
Latest updates from Motorsport UK, the wider motorsport community and the latest from the UK Government..
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