The Tarmac Rally Organisers’ Association has announced the cancellation of the 2021 Irish Tarmac Rally Championship due to ongoing Covid-19 restrictions. Both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are in lockdown until at least 5 March.
TROA’s board of directors came to the decision during a recent virtual meeting. It is the second successive year the championship has been abandoned.
Three ITRC rounds had already been cancelled this year: Galway International Rally, West Cork International Rally, and the Circuit of Ireland.
That left Killarney, Donegal, Ulster, and Cork. But with continued uncertainty surrounding their running, TROA decided it was in the best interests of its stakeholders to call off this year’s Tarmac Championship.
In January, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland recorded 528 and 1070 Covid-19 related deaths respectively.
ITRC’s latest cancellation comes one year after the championship’s only event last year when Alastair Fisher and Gordon Noble claimed a popular first ITRC victory on the season-opening Galway Rally.
2020’s second round in West Cork was canned two days prior to its running as coronavirus began to grip the country.
Rallying has yet to return to Ireland since hopes of a titanic tussle around Clonakilty were ended last March. West Cork’s quality entry, including a top-five of Craig Breen, Matt Edwards, Alastair Fisher, Tom Cave, and Donagh Kelly, is all but a distant memory now.
How much longer rally fans in Ireland will have to wait remains unclear. For TROA it made more sense to switch its focus to 2022.
However, as chairman Colman Hegarty explains TROA’s decision doesn’t mean regular ITRC rounds like the Ulster Rally or Cork 20 can’t run this year.
“Should one or all of the four remaining events run in the latter part of 2021, TROA pledges its full support to those events,” said Hegarty. “I would like to thank all our loyal competitors and stakeholders for their support and understanding in this difficult time for all of us.
“May I assure everybody that the Tarmac Championship will be back in all its former glory in 2022 once Covid restrictions allow.”
Cover photo by Mark McCullagh