Autosport International, Europe’s biggest motor sport exhibition, and the traditional season-opener took place in Birmingham over the weekend and there was plenty of Irish interest over the course of the four-day event
The biggest new story happened on opening day, when Kerry driver Rob Duggan was announced as one of the official drivers for the newly formed Vauxhall Junior Driver.
Duggan, the current Billy Coleman Award winner will contest the entire British Rally Championship, beginning with the Mid Wakes Stages in March in one of the team’s factory supported Vauxhall Admans (right).
He is one of three drivers assigned to the team for the 2016 season and will join Australian Arron Windus and Swedish pilot Mattias Adielsson in the season ahead.
Reddington’s New Car
London-based Galway man, John Reddington, used the show to unveil his newly built, state-of the-art Ford Escort.
The new car took centre stage on the Den Motorsport Stand, the Northern Irish firm that built the car for him. Reddington intends to test the car in a couple of private test sessions in the coming weeks before placing an entry for The Donegal Mini Stages at the end of January. He is using the Letterkenny-based event as a shakedown for the following weekend’s Galway International Rally.
Guy Martin’s Irish link
Motorcycle racing legend and TV star Guy Martin will make his rallycross debut later this year at the wheel of London-based Limerick man, Ollie O’Donovan’s Ford Focus Super Car.
Martin, one of the world’s biggest names in two-wheeled motorsport, especially on the Isle of Man TT races, will contest at least one of the last three rounds of the British Rallycross championship in the Focus. His preparation and races will form part of a new Chanel 4 documentary by Martin.
O’Donovan’s World Plan
O’Donovan’s Ford Focus meanwhile was the starattraction on The British Rallycross Championship at the show where the Limerick man announced details of his planned season.
As well as tackling all nine rounds of the British series he will also enter six European rounds of the World Championship. His initial plan is to take the Focus Supercar to Belgium, Norway, Sweden Spain and Latvia as well as contesting the British round of the world championships at Lydden Hill, Kent on May 28 and 29.
Turkington’s Touring Car Challenge
Former British Touring Car champion Colin Turkington will drive the brand new Subaru Levorg in this year’s British Touring Car Championship.
Turkington has driven for the BMR racing team for last number of years, is part of a three-man team that will compete with official backing from the country’s official Subaru Importer during 2016.
BMR fielded Passat CCs last year, including one for Dubliner Aron Smith, but his is a new departure for the squad. The Levorg is Subau’s newest car, and while the Japanese is always linked with rallying, and the late Colin McRae, it is an image they are keen to leave behind and start a fresh with a new car and a new discipline.
Championship insiders say the Turkington and his teammate Jason Plato are serious contenders for the British title and that BMR stand a good chance of winning the team championship despite the relatively unknown qualities of the new car.
London Irish AGM
The London Irish Motor Club will host its annual general meeting at the Claddagh Ring in Hendon on Tuesday January 26.
The club, which was reformed last July, promotes motorsport activity in the Greater London area and is one of very few motor clubs to hold official affiliation to both Motorsport Ireland and the Motor Sports Association, the governing bodies of motorsport on each side of the Irish Sea.
Although the membership is largely made up of ex-pats, membership is open to all and new members are welcome to attend Tuesday night’s meeting and join for the new year.
The meeting gets underway at 8pm and more details are available from Sean Moriarty on 07908 830689.