| 5.3°C Dublin

Jaguar line up Le Mans return

Jaguar is synonymous with the classic Le Mans 24-hour sports car race, claiming seven victories since Peter Whitehead and Peter Walker claimed Jaguar's first triumph in the French classic marathon in 1951, driving a C-Type.

The company returns to the Circuit de la Sarthe 20 years after its last victory, when John Nielsen, F1 commentator Martin Brundle and American Price Cobb drove an XJR-12 run by Tom Walkinshaw Racing to victory completing 3,034 miles at an average speed of 127mph.

This year Jaguar will not be challenging for outright victory as it runs in the GT2 category, but the competition will be no less fierce as it lines up against Corvettes, Porsches, Ferrari 430s, BMW M3s and Aston Martins.

Team principal Paul Gentilozzi and co-drivers Scott Pruett and Marc Goosens will line up in an XKR GT2 run by the Jaguar RSR team. Will this outing be a precursor to a more high profile return by Jaguar in the future?

pThe late appeal by Tipperary MC for entries for the Sean Conlon Memorial rally worked wonders for the organisers. The club reports it secured sufficient entries in the past week and now it's all go for the opening round of the Petro Systems forestry rally championship on Sunday.

Clerk of the course John Ward has planned an eight-stage event in the Mitchelstown area, where the Firgrove Hotel will be rally headquarters.

Craig Breen -- runner-up in Galway last weekend -- will do be there to get some forestry experience in preparation for his planned British championship campaign.

pLimerick MC has cancelled its forestry championship round scheduled for Easter Sunday -- a date taken over by the Birr club, which has brought forward its championship round from October.

pThe Rallysport Association expect around 250 entries for their planned two-day rallysprint meeting at Mondello Park at the end of the month. In order to keep costs to a minimum the Northern-based organisation charges a modest €100 entry fee per day, and competitors do not require a competition licence but must hold a full road licence. It will be the first of a series of events the organisation expects to run within the Motorsport Ireland jurisdiction this year, taking in such venues as the Kiltorcan (Kilkenny) and Tynagh (Galway) karting tracks as well as the two events at Mondello Park.

However, Motorsport Ireland advises competitors are free to compete in events without a permit issued by the governing body should they not hold a current MI competition licence. The governing body states that any person who enters, drives in, officiates at or in any manner whatsoever takes part in a prohibited event or unauthorised competition while holding an MI competition licence will be suspended.

It will be interesting to see if this new event will affect the opening Dunlop national championship round at Nenagh on the same weekend.

pFormer Tarmac champion Eamonn Boland and co-driver Mickey Joe Morrissey will be the only Irish crew in the Swedish Rally this weekend. The Wexford-Waterford crew got some practice of snow driving when they finished 19th overall on the recent Monte Carlo rally. The event -- the opening round of the 2010 world rally championship -- will see F1 world champion Kimi Raikkonen line up against rally champions Sebastian Loeb, Marcus Gronholm and Petter Solberg, and 2009 world championship runner-up Mikko Hirvonen for the three-day snow-covered winter classic.

pKris Meeke concluded a four-day test in France today in preparation for the second IRC round in Brazil next month. "I'm delighted with the time in the car. More time in the car is always better," said the IRC Ulsterman who scored his first IRC win in Brazil before going on to win the championship last year.

pSince he was appointed Circuit of Ireland rally director, Bobby Willis has been ringing improvements on an ongoing basis. He has secured IRC Supporter Event status for the event, and his latest move is to appoint the vastly experienced Gordon Noble as clerk of the course for the event.

A veteran of 25 years experience as co-driver and event organiser, Noble held that position for the most recent Rally Ireland world championship round. Tom Walsh -- who was clerk of the course for the first Rally Ireland in 2007 -- will assist him in the organisation of the Easter classic.

pAs the start of the racing season nears comes news that a new class will be introduced this year for juniors between 14 and 17 years of age. The youngsters will drive Ginetta G20s, which supported the BTCC championship meetings last year. The racers will take part in a nine-race programme starting on July 17 and will give a demonstration run at the Phoenix Park meeting in August.