Motorsport enthusiasts and car owners from the Connacht are gathering for Motorsport Ireland's Hill Climb and Sprint Championships.
The first of the pre-season scrutiny events has been hosted by Frank Byrnes Autobody Repair in Oranmore - the long time participant and three-times Irish Hillclimb champion.
This year Galway is represented by Joe Courtney from Dunmore, the 2016 champion flying, and he is the hot favourite again.
The Naylor Engineering Hillclimb and Sprint Championships kicks off in County Galway- the start of 14 rounds at eight venues nationwide, while The 2017 Motorsport Ireland Championship kicks off at the famous “Corkscrew” Hill in Ballyvaughan, Co Clare on Saturday April 22, followed by Ballinalacken Hill, Fanore on Sunday.
The national committee introduced the pre-season scrutiny last year as part of their ongoing development of the sports to constantly improve all standards, in particular safety. There was a great buzz with scutineers Jason Keogh and Pat Shiel giving their advice and a constant stream of cars of all shapes and sizes rolling in all day.
‘With safety always being paramount and our number one priority, we strive to bring the safest event venues possible and also to ensure that the competition cars are of the highest standard in terms of maintenance and repair,’ said Rory Stephens,chairman of Hillclimb & Sprint Committee. A new Hillclimb Marshall’s Club is being established for 2017 with sponsorship from Frank Byrnes Autobody Repairs, Oranmore.
Led by Jaimie O’Rourke from Limerick, winner of Marshall of the Year 2016, training will be provided to the voluntary team of marshalls.
"The role of the hillclimb marshall is key to running a successful event. Competitors who are driving at high speed uphill depend on the dedicated flag marshalls to communicate instantly if there’s an obstruction or collision on the hill or a car ahead that has broken down, it is crucial that they are well-trained and alert at all times. This new club will add to the safety and smooth running of the championship throughout the country."
The pre-season scrutiny gave car owners the opportunity to have their cars checked out well in advance of the race days. Car owners had their cars checked in detail and discussed various aspects of safety and assembly with experienced scrutineers without the pressure of failing scrutiny at an event.