Irish Rallying

Omagh’s quarry time trial will help fill rallying void

This weekend’s Cam Trophy Rally Time Trial will be the closest Northern Ireland will have got to rallying since the start of Covid-19 restrictions.

Organised by Omagh Motor Club, the event will consist of a 2.65-mile stage repeated up to five times. The rally time trial has attracted around 80 entries ranging from highly-strung World Rally Cars to rudimentary clubman machinery.

For both extremes, it’s clear that they are itching to partake in competitive action again.

The initiative was originally considered as a way of giving clubmen competitors a more affordable option to get back out in their rally cars. But as lockdown took effect throughout Ireland it became apparent that such an event would provide a lifeline for more than just the clubman.

“A quarry sprint is all about the clubman,” explained Omagh Motor Club’s Niall McGonigle. “It’s good to get them all back out again.

“It’s a cheap day out, £130, and you’re effectively getting 12 miles in. There are some forest rallies only 30 miles at £400 or whatever.

“There are a lot of clubs not wanting to be seen to be doing anything this year, and I can see their point, but if you do everything right and stay within the guidelines then you shouldn’t be too far away.”

The 280-acre site is more than adequate to have a socially distant service area and a good stage route with no repeating loops.

It’s no surprise that spectators cannot access the event and media access is also limited with only two photographers granted permission. One silver lining for fans is the prospect of updates from Onthepacenote who will be streaming Saturday’s action.

“We have to do what we have to do to get motorsport back going again, we have to stay between the lines and make it happen.

“The mixture of live-action and end-of-stage interviews should be pretty good for the people who can’t go.

“We are all itching to get at it.”

The strength of the motorsport community is being tested this year. With so little action in 2020, events like the Cam Trophy can give respite to those waiting for a return to normality.

We can’t expect things to return to normal overnight or at a click of somebody’s fingers. Omagh Motor Club has gone out of its way to offer something appropriate and feasible in current circumstances. In many ways, it is thanks to a rally man, Aidan Caldwell, who has offered up his quarry for a weekend in order to help the cause.

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Photo by Mark McCullagh

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