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A shining example in uncertain times

Uncertainty is gripping the world’s population. Coronavirus has brought an unknown future that no-one could have imagined three months ago. In such times our passion for motorsport has never felt so unimportant. But in difficult days it is often simple statements that eclipse the gloomy aura crippling our current climate.

Two weeks ago I was busily preparing for two exhilarating days in Clonakilty. The scene was set for a sublime West Cork Rally. Organisers had delivered an entry list second to none. My rally preview was ready to post, littered with all the potential battles between Irish Tarmac and British Rally Championship rivals. Breen was back with his return in a Hyundai set to be challenged by a surplus of capable rally winners.

As I talked to drivers before previewing the event, it became obvious why West Cork had received such an expansive entry list.

“A great, well-organised event with brilliant stages,” expressed one R5 regular. Another claimed it was “one of the most professionally run rallies in the country.”

To be honest the reasons were obvious before any of those interviews.

I’ll always remember a phrase voiced two years ago, by the then Clerk of the Course Greg McCarthy:

“It’s a rally run by competitors for competitors.”

Then the news came. Coronavirus had caught hold of Ireland and the organisers, who had spent 12 months preparing for Clonakilty’s big weekend, made their heart-breaking decision. Edition 42 of the West Cork Rally was postponed.

It was a brave move and in hindsight, it was certainly the right one. While Formula 1 dithered and the World Rally Championship hid from reality, West Cork took no chances.

The organisers know that they have a special relationship with the local community. Despite the loss of revenue, local businesses supported the postponement and the club was focused on putting the health of the local population at the forefront of its decision. The residents embrace the rally and for as long as stakeholders sing from the same hymn sheet, the rally will continue to kickstart West Cork’s tourist season.

As coronavirus continued to grip the country, this year’s Clerk of the Course, Steve Davis, released a statement that emphasised the class at which the West Cork Rally operates on.

Despite the financial losses of suspending the event at such short notice, the Cork Motor Club decided to take the hit and refund in full each of the entry fees received from over 180 crews.

An act of selflessness in such challenging times.

It wasn’t the good news story I was hoping to report on from West Cork this year. But in practical magnitude, it tops all the potential rally headlines that looked set to be made on St Patrick’s Day earlier this month.

In unfamiliar circumstances, the West Cork Rally has once again shown its integrity.

The world is in the eye of a COVID-19 storm and rallying has rightfully been put on hold. For many, the notion of returning to events like Clonakilty’s finest is helping us remain positive in these days of isolation.

Photo by David Harrigan

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