Easter Stages Rally cancelled

THERE was disappointment last week when it was announced that the Triton Showers Easter Stages Rally could not be rescheduled to later in this year.

The rally management had lodged an application with the Department of Regional Development, who issue the permit under the Road Races Order, in an effort to reschedule the event to the Autumn. This week the DRD have informed the organisers they are unable to grant the necessary amendment to the closure order.

The Easter Stages Rally was due to take place on Saturday, March 30th, but was cancelled due to heavy snow affecting the Slieve Croob area of County Down. Just days before the event, people in the area, particularly farmers, were facing critical issues, including the loss and death of livestock. The rally management team decided unanimously that it would be inappropriate for the rally to continue in light of the hardship they were facing.

“We tried everything we could to make it possible,” said spokesman for the rally, Bobby Willis. “It’s such a shame and a loss for motorsport, to lose an event such as this, which has run almost every year since 1931, with very few exceptions. It also means the two Championships that we were part of, will now lose one of their higher profile events too.”

The one-day rally was due to replace the Circuit of Ireland Rally for 2013, which was postponed due to insufficient funding. 

A huge number of entries had been received for the Easter Stages, which was to feature as Round 3 of the Northern Ireland Stage Rally Championship and Round 2 of the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship. The rally was to start in Lisburn and finish in Ballynahinch, taking in twelve stages over a lengthy 100 competitive miles within the counties of Down and Antrim.

Bobby Willis added, “Our sights are now firmly set on the Circuit of Ireland Rally next year, and hopefully bringing the European Rally Championship to Northern Ireland. This will now be our focus.”