Both the 2017 Motor Mall Manx Rally Championship and Isle of Man Navigational Rally Championship have seen their planned opening events delayed.
Druidale Motor Club’s January Rally was due to run this coming Saturday, February 4, but was postponed by organisers last week while regulatory updates are made. It is anticipated that this delay will be relatively short-lived and the full eight-round series will take place.
Manx Auto Sport meanwhile also last week announced that the Haydn Minay Forest Stages will be moved back to March 31 and April 1 from the originally notified date of March 3-4.
Having not run a gravel stage event for several years, the last falling before new requirements were introduced by the governing body (the MSA) in the wake of the Jim Clark Rally fatalities, the organisers want to give themselves as much time as possible to put everything in place.
It will still be the opening round of the Manx Rally Championship, which sees Motor Mall take over as headline sponsor from the former Eurocars name.
The event will be the first multi-venue gravel stage rally to be run in the island since 2010, and the first loose surface stage event since a single venue rally run in Conrhenny plantation in 2013. This was won by TEG Sport Subaru crew Arron Newby and Rob Fagg en route to the Manx title.
Minay was the long-time Manx Auto Sport President and sponsor of the island’s main loose surface club event, the Easter Stages. He died last year and the event’s re-boot will make a fitting tribute.
The rally will feature approximately 40 stage miles at four venues across the island. Friday night will see crews tackle four tests run in darkness, with a further eight the following day. The longest stages will be around 4.5 miles.
Clerk of the course Mark Ellison said: ’The re-launch of gravel rallying is generating a lot of excitement.
’Hopefully that will translate into a good entry and a successful event.’
In addition, a second gravel event will feature in this year’s Manx Rally Championship, with Druidale Motor Club confirming recently that they intend to re-launch the Summer Stages on July 22 under the guidance of new club chairman Scott Bradshaw.
The Summer Stages will be based on farm lanes rather than forest roads and is again a re-instigation of a former event.
The Championship will also include the usual closed roads events, May’s Manx National Rally, September’s Rally Isle of Man (a double-header event) and the PokerStars Rally in November.