Saturday 12th November saw a large crowd of competitors, sponsors, media, TROA representatives and fans gather at Mondello Park for the 2017 ITRC launch. Special guest for the day was Andrew Wheatly Business Development Manager for M-Sport who had some exciting announcements, more later, on this one.
Several of the competitors brought along their cars to entertain the crowd and bring sponsors, family and fans for the thrill of a lifetime spin around the circuit.
First on track was Sam Moffett, R5 Fiesta? No, Sam decided to forsake everything he had ever learned around the stages in Ireland and further afield to let his hair down, he appeared in the monster Escort 6R4. Cousin David brought along his RWD Starlet.
Stephen Wright and Joe McGonigle did stick to protocol and brought along their R5 cars, Joe as well as entertaining his sponsors was also getting a little more seat time in his new car.
Another in attendance was James Hall in his beautiful sounding historic specification Audi Quattro.
Jenna McCann kept the female flag flying, turned up with her R2 Fiesta and certainly showcased the talented driver she is. Sarah Whelan made the long trip from Galway to shore up the female competitor attendance.
2016 Junior Champion Kevin Horgan fresh from his test day at M-Sport entertained some of the guests in the Chadwick R2 Skoda Fabia.
Also there with their respective rally cars were Cork 20 sponsor and Ace Signs owner Neil Phelan, Sean Moynahan with his MK2 Escort and Mark Nagle with his Subaru. Eugene Meegan, Brian Brogan and John O’Sullivan also attended, all be it without their cars as they were being rebuilt for the 2017 season.
Half way through the morning proceedings on the track were temporarily suspended as there were some short speeches and announcements to be made.
First up was ITRC Manager Paddy Flanagan M.C. for the day, introduced TROA Chairman David Gray to speak. Having thanked all who attended David spoke about one important change to the main championship.
He announced the rebranding of the different sections to ITRC 1 (R5 Cars), ITRC 2 (R4,NR4 and S2000) and ITRC 3 (R1, R2 and R3). He stressed that all classes would remain as 2016 and points would be awarded in each class as would the awarding of overall points.
Paddy Flanagan then introduced M-Sports Andrew Wheatly. Andrew spoke of the importance of the ITRC to M-Sport and vice versa. He then announced;
1. The prize for the 2017 overall champion would be a fully funded drive on a round of the BRC as long as the championship was won in a R5 Fiesta.
2. The introduction of a one make series based on a detuned version of the R2T Fiesta. Full details of prizes to be released Tuesday 15th November by M-Sport.
3. The prize for the 2017 Junior Champion would be a test at M-Sport in a full R2T Fiesta.
Paddy Flanagan then invited Ed Twomey from Clonakilty Blackpudding to speak. Ed thanked all who attended reiterated their commitment to the #ITRC in 2017.
All the niceties over it was back to the entertainment on track.