Rally top brass act on riot
IRISH rallying has moved quickly in an attempt to stamp out the sort of thuggish behaviour that marred last weekend's Statoil Galway International and resulted in 28 people being arrested following disturbances in Salthill.
The RIAC have already put into place a plan that will result in more co-operation between the organising body and the Gardaí in the run-up to future events.
RIAC secretary Alex Sinclair said: ``There were meetings held between the Galway MC and the Gardaí prior to last weekend's event. For whatever reason, what was put in place clearly wasn't adequate.
``I don't think anyone expected the level of disturbance that was created. It's happened once but it won't happen a second time.
``We will now be appointing a liaison officer to deal directly with the Gardaí. He or she will put in place formal arrangements to make sure that whatever information we have is quickly made available to the Gardaí.
``We want to do all we can to help the Gardaí police our events in the best possible fashion. The vast majority of people attending a rally are perfectly well-behaved and we are determined to ensure that they can enjoy their sport in safety. The trouble makers must be taken off the road before they do some even more serious damage.''
The activities of the `Twin Cam Boys,' and their total lack of respect for law and order, are well known to rally fans across the country and questions are being asked about whether proper preparations were made to head off trouble in Galway.
Superintendent Jim Sugrue of Salthill admitted that there had been disturbances in the past but insisted that the plans laid down for last weekend were adequate based on previous experience.
The majority of the group, which follows rallies throughout Ireland, are said to come from Northern Ireland, though more are believed to be joining from the South.
Brian Thornton of the Galway Motor Club said: ``We absolutely condemn what was done by people who didn't follow the rally. But, to put it into perspective, we would reckon that there were at least 20,000 extra people in Galway for the rally but there was a total of just 28 arrests.
``The Galway MC is not a policing authority and, while we will do everything to help the Gardaí in future, public order is a Garda matter,'' concluded Thornton.
Superintendent Sugrue agreed, but he added: ``The organisers will have to take some responsibility if people are in Galway for their event. It's a matter that will have to be discussed because the people of Salthill will not tolerate this sort of behaviour.''
Meanwhile, the F1 teams have completed their final preparations for the Formula One season which begins in Melbourne on Sunday week.
McLaren-Mercedes is the team that everyone fears, for they consistently topped the timesheets throughout the winter testing.
The combination of Mercedes power, Bridgestone tyres, McLaren chassis and two strong drivers makes the Woking team the one to beat in Australia.
The Benson & Hedges Jordan Mugen team have made satisfactory progress with the new Jordan 198, which showed impressive reliability from day one but failed to impress on the stopwatch.
That situation has changed in the past two weeks. The Silverstone-based team are now around a second a lap off McLaren, if times from Barcelona are to be relied upon, and much of the deficit is attributed to the difference between the Bridgestone tyres and the Goodyear rubber that B&H Jordan uses.
The gap is fast closing and team members feel confident that Jordan will be close to the pace when the cars take to the track in Australia.
Eddie Irvine has had very little running in the new Marlboro Ferrari F300 but the Killiney-based Conlig man has endured an exhausting winter, combining tyre development testing for Goodyear using last year's Ferrari F310 with promotional appearances for Marlboro.
Irvine, in common with the other Goodyear supplied teams, is deeply concerned about the threat posed by Bridgestone but he was still upbeat about his chances.
``We know this year's car is as good as last year's car,'' he said. ``Most people seem to have lost time with their '98 cars but until we get to Australia we don't know.''
SATURDAY North Dublin MC Schoolboy Spring Motocross, Gormanstown 12.0; GSMC Sporting Trial, Bohernabreena 12.0; Co Cavan MC Navigation Rally, McShane's Bar, Cornafean 9.0.
SUNDAY Castle AC Autocross, Killinkare Co Cavan, 1.0; Birr & District AC Autocross, Ballinakill, Co Tipperary 11.0; MEC Montrose Cup Trial, Sugar Loaf Mountain 12.0; North Dublin MC Adult Spring Motocross, Gormanstown 12.0.
Who is your sportstar of the year?
Vote in the Irish Independent Sport Star Awards and you could win the ultimate sports prize.
Prizes include, a trip to Old Trafford to watch Man United take on Liverpool in the Premier League, tickets to Ireland's home games in the Six Nations, All Ireland football and hurling final tickets and much more.