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Rally Isle of Man cancelled

Thu, 22 Sep 2011


The Board of Directors of Rally Isle of Man today announces the cancellation of the 2011 event which was due to run on 27-29th October.

Statement from organisers:

"The rally, which is the Island's only event that is a round of an international motorsport championship, has suffered a series of major blows that have led to the decision.

The organisers, Rally Isle of Man Limited, had moved to a mid-autumn date this year as part of the requirements of the Isle of Man Government, which has historically been the primary event backer. The dates were the only ones agreeable to all the key stakeholders in the event, allowing it any chance to run at all. In moving, the rally was to have been a double-header finale to the UK's major title chases, the Dulux Trade British Rally Championship, Dunlop/Wonago MSA British Historic Rally Championship and the BRC Challenge.

The Board's worst fears arising from the change came to fruition last month when it was announced that the event would not be a round of the main British Championship or the BRC Challenge next year. 2012's event would have marked the 40th anniversary for the event as part of the UK's premier championship.

Organisers have sadly received a further body blow this week, with British Historic Championship officials advising that the event will not feature on their 2012 calendar either. This is the best supported of the major series in terms of competitor numbers and has contributed 40 or more entries each year over the last decade.

Both sets of series promoters cite the change of dates as a key reason for the decision, allied to the high cost of travel for competitors to the Island. Both also travel to the Ulster Rally in mid-August as a qualifying round, and will do so again next year, and state that the cost comparison offers little incentive to come to the Isle of Man.

The move to October also means the event loses any direct ferry link with Ireland to coincide with the rally. Three of the top four starters in last year's International event, winner Keith Cronin, Alastair Fisher and Jonathan Greer, came from the Emerald isle. Similarly, the winner of the Historic Rally, Ryan Barrett, travelled from Omagh to tackle the Manx roads, which are considered amongst the biggest challenge in the sport.

In addition the fastcraft sailings to Liverpool have also ended for the season by the scheduled dates, adding to transport difficulties and costs for crews, teams, officials and spectators alike.

Organisers have also run into a further difficulty in recent days over the route, with last minute objections throwing into doubt their ability to run the flagship Castletown spectator stages, which traditionally form the main attraction of the opening evening of the rally, and have been part of the event for 25 years.

Brian Walton, Chairman of the organising committee of the rally, confirmed the course of action. "It is a desperately disappointing decision that we have had to take, and certainly not one that we make without earnest consideration. Having looked at all the issues and available options we feel however that we have made the right move for our event. We have been placed in a difficult position, mainly by circumstances and decisions over which we had little control."

"We have established a reputation down the years for running a world class event, a true test of man and machine on some of the best rally roads anywhere. We do not want to run an event unless it can be to the highest standards, and would reflect well on the Isle of Man. We regret any inconvenience caused to those who had made plans to attend the rally, and thank all those who have supported us to this stage."

Clerk of the Course, David Gawne MBE, spoke of the feelings of the key staff of the event. "Having been involved for over 35 years this is one of the saddest days in my association with the rally. The whole organising team feels very flat right now. Rally Isle of Man is run almost entirely by volunteers who work tirelessly year round to stage an international motorsport event, renowned throughout the rallying world, whilst also maintaining their own day jobs. I pay tribute to everyone who works so hard on the event, and who have taken it through many of the planning stages so far this year. I'd also like to pay tribute to the people of the Isle of Man for their support and tolerance over the past 48 years."

Fellow Board member Les Postlethwaite, a former Clerk of the Course, echoes those sentiments. "We have many hundreds of loyal personnel from both on and off-island who we consider to be part of the team, which is known as one of the most experienced and able there is. The vast majority of them have Rally Isle of Man as an annual fixture in their calendar. We thank you for your support and hope you understand the reasons behind this decision."

Attention now turns to the future, as Brian Walton says. "We had already announced that we would review the date of next year's event. Without the Championships coming for their annual visit we must now look at the best direction as we seek to provide a sustainable future for Rally Isle of Man."

"The British Championship organisers have committed to holding open a summer place in their 2013 calendar, and we will now seek to work with all our partners, to see if that is an achievable objective. The Department has already pledged to take part in those discussions and we hope that we can find a way forward in the best interests of the Island and the event."

 

 

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