ITRC: 2002 Irish Tarmac rally preview

The Toshiba Tarmac Rally Championship 2002 is go! Toshiba have announced that they will continue their association with the Tarmac Rally Organisers Association, and that the eight-round 2002 Toshiba Tarmac Championship promises to be more hotly...

The Toshiba Tarmac Rally Championship 2002 is go!

Toshiba have announced that they will continue their association with the Tarmac Rally Organisers Association, and that the eight-round 2002 Toshiba Tarmac Championship promises to be more hotly contested than ever before.

The series, based mainly in Ireland but including rounds in the Isle of Man and, for the first time, in Scotland, will feature the largest contingent of World Rally Cars outside the World Championship itself, and promises excitement at every turn of the road from the start of the opening round on Easter Saturday to the finish of the final stage in November. Alan Thompson, Managing Director of Toshiba for the UK and Ireland said: "We are delighted to be back. It's great to be involved in such a significant and exciting Championship and we are looking forward to a great 2002, both in sport and in business." Tom Walsh, Chairman of the Tarmac Rally Organisers Association said:"We are delighted Toshiba have continued their support and we acknowledge their commitment to the Championship. "We are looking forward to a competitive eight-round Championship with renewed enthusiasm following the problems posed by the Foot & Mouth outbreak last year." The new, expanded eight-round Championship will see the crews doing battle in various parts of the British Isles during the year, starting in Northern Ireland.

Round 1: Circuit of Ireland, March 29 -- April 1 The Ulster Automobile Club has put together a compact route centered on Enniskillen for the Easter Classic this year. At no point does the event go more than 50 miles away from Rally Headquarters, yet the stages selected are among the most challenging to be found anywhere in Ireland. This year the 'Circuit' will be run to a 'World Championship' format in three loops, the first starting on Easter Saturday afternoon and the final group of stages finishing on Easter Monday.

Round 2: Killarney Rally of the Lakes, May 4/5 Killarney offers some of the best rallying terrain to be found anywhere in Europe. Magnificent scenery and equally magnificent roads provide an unparalleled arena for Round 2 of the Toshiba series, while Killarney's legendary hospitality ensures that competitors, rally officials and spectators will have a memorable time, both on and off the special stages.

Round 3: Donegal International Rally, June 21- 23 Donegal first came to rallying prominence some 30 years ago when the local motor club decided that there was so much good rallying country on their doorstep that they need never venture out of the county again! Since then the Donegal International has steadily grown in stature, and today it stands as one of the strongest, and most spectacular, events on the International calendar. Its unique atmosphere, helped by a midsummer date which (usually) adds fine weather to the mixture makes it highly deserving of its unofficial title 'The Donegal Grand Prix'!

Round 4: Jim Clark Memorial Rally, July 12/13 A newcomer to the Championship and a relatively new event, the 'Jim Clark' was originally a forestry rally devised to commemorate the life of the great Scottish World Champion. More recently however it has become the only major event on mainland Britain to run on closed public roads. Based close to Jim Clark's family home at Duns in Berwickshire on the Scottish borders it is also a round of the British Championship in 2002.

Round 5: Manx International Rally, August 1- 3 An August date moves 'the Manx' right into the middle of the holiday season on the motor sport-mad island and this should help make it one of the most popular events of the year with spectators. Always fast and competitive, the Manx provides Toshiba Tarmac contenders with their second confrontation with British Championship regulars. The Isle of Man may be a relatively small island, but it has all the ingredients for a classic event.

Round 6: Ulster Rally, September 6/7 Short, sharp and challenging, the Ulster Rally makes a welcome return to the ranks of Toshiba Tarmac events this year. With its traditional stages a combination of rural and mountain roads, the Ulster is a tough test of both crews and machinery. The fact that it's all crammed into 24 hours makes it hard work too. Whoever wins the Ulster will have earned his victory! Extra spice comes from the fact that this the third Toshiba Tarmac round to count towards the British Championship.

Round 7: Cork '20' International, October 4- 6 The fast Cork stages offer a new challenge to Toshiba Tarmac competitors as the season draws towards its close. Cork offers a wide variety of conditions for rallying, from very fast, smooth tarmac to the kind of mountain terrain you might expect in Southern Europe. The Cork '20' originally lasted just 20 hours. It's a three-day event now, and that's not counting the after-rally hospitality!

Round 8: West 2002, Galway, November 8- 9 A welcome back to Galway's International rally that, some years ago, was the traditional starting point of the International season in Ireland. The date may have changed, but Galway's roads are as tricky to read as ever, and its dry stone walls just as solid as they were. Again an event offering all kinds of terrain -- and great hospitality too -- but with the added uncertainties of November weather. It could go all the way 'down to the wire'.

A classic Championship then, and whoever becomes Toshiba Tarmac Rally Champion 2002 will have earned the title!

-itrc/toshiba-

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Series Other rally
Drivers Jim Clark