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TEENS GET KICKS IN rallycross

Youth involvement in rallycross is growing as more youngsters between 14 and 17 years of age join in the fray, making the Jondol junior championship one of the most hotly contested classes in that competitive branch of the sport this year.

The increasing numbers in the junior class in rallycross resulted in the field being split into three heats at the last outing two weeks ago. It looks like the same format will apply again at Mondello Park on Sunday, with the promise of more ultra-competitive closely fought battles for honours spread throughout the class.

With three wins to his credit, Simon Quinn looks to be favourite to take the honours, but the battle behind sees Paul Barrett leading Niall Murray by two points, and with Mark Francis and Andrew Patterson in close contention the fight for glory will continue until the chequered flag drops for the last time at the end of the final round.

p Recognising that volunteer marshals are the lifeblood of the sport and make a significant contribution to the running of events, the innovative ALMC has established an interesting Marshals' Challenge to reward them for their efforts this year. Open to club members and non-members alike, the Challenge takes in a wide range of motorsport events including rallies and autotests -- and even motorcycle racing at which points can be amassed for some excellent awards. Interested enthusiasts should register with Conor Crowley (086 8513313) or Susan Storan (087 7750560), or visit the club's website at www.almc.ie.

p While the final details of the Irish Evo Challenge have yet to be announced, a key element of the series is that the winner will get the same prize as the winners of the British and Swedish Challenges: a supported drive in an international event at the end of this year or early 2011, from which best placed of the three will be crowned European Evo champion.

A popular series with Irish teams the British series kicks off with a pre- season shakedown event on the Bournemouth-based Sunseeker rally at the end of the month, before joining the six-round British rally championship for the competitive element of the Challenge.

p News of drivers' plans for the coming season are coming in thick and fast as the racing season approaches. Niall Breen is one of five drivers to secure a Porsche scholarship in which they will share €180,000 as a cash injection into their racing budgets this year. The 23-year old Dundalk driver will contest the nine-race Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup series supporting European F1 Grands Prix. It will be his first time to race with a roof over his head but he is enthusiastic about the new challenge, saying: "I'm delighted to be back racing and looking forward to this new challenge in 2010 and beyond."

The Dundalk ace totally dominated the Formula BMWUK championship four years ago, winning nine of his 20 races before moving to British F3 racing, finishing fifth in the championship. He graduated to European F3 in 2008 before budgetary problems constrained his racing last year.

His programme includes Bahrain (March 12/14), Barcelona (May 7/9), Monaco (May 14/16), Valencia (June 25/27), Silverstone (July 9/11), Hockenheim (July 23/25), Budapest (July 30/August 1), Spa Francochamps (August 27/29) and Monza (September 10/12).

p Gary Thompson will contest the Japanese F3 championship with the Achievement by KCMG team this year. The 17-year-old Donabate racer confirmed a deal has been on the table since early last year after his sensational debut victory in the Formula BMW Pacific race which supported the Malaysian Grand Prix last April. A two-year programme planned for him will start at Suzuka on April 17.

p The performance of the GSXR1000-powered Leastone F5 last year convinced Paul Heavey that, with more track time and some fine-tuning, it could be a consistent podium challenger. "More track time will benefit us tenfold," said the Co Kildare racing car manufacturer who plans to dovetail selected rounds of the UK Monoposto championship with rounds of the 750MC Formula Four championship -- the car is eligible for both championships -- this year. He is seeking another driver to form a two-car team for his campaign.

p New to the Top Part West Coast championship will be a historic category run in two classes: under and over 1650cc engine capacity. It will run alongside the long-established championship. The popular series gets under way at Nenagh (February 28) followed by Circuit of Kerry (April 11), Circuit of Munster (June 6), Galway Summer (August 29) and Clare (September 10), before closing with the Kerry Mini-Stages on November 14.

p HASS (Henderson Auto Sport and Spares) continues as title sponsor of the regional Border championship this year. The six-round class-based series kicks off in Mayo (March 14), with rounds at Monaghan (April 25), Cavan (May 30), Mourne (June 5), Sligo (July 11) and Donegal Harvest (October 9).


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