All roads lead to Donegal this weekend for the occasion that even tops the return of Sam Maguire to the county. And since the event was launched in 1972, the Donegal International Rally has grown to become county’s largest sporting event. Estimated to bring up to €25 million to the local economy each year. The event hosts up to 50,000 plus spectators.
It is the biggest rally of its type in Ireland, with the major three-day rally ( 21st, 22nd & 23rd June) brings enormous economic benefit to the region and is set to play a major part in ‘the Gathering’, the year-long Government tourism initiative.
To wet your appetite for this weekend, the organizers of the Donegal International Rally launched a spectacular promotional video which is available to view live on the internet on the Donegal Motor Club’s dedicated YouTube channel today.
Produced by Tyndall productions (RPM), the video draws on their huge archive of Donegal Rally footage going back to the 1970s, and is peppered with memorable action from all its heroes including Garry Jennings and Neil Doherty, the 2012 Champions.
Meanwhile, the Road Safety Authority (RSA) and Motorsport Ireland, in association with Donegal Motor Club have issued a joint safety message to fans attending the sporting event to “Keep the Race in its Place”.
The RSA and Motorsport Ireland are running a safety campaign around the event to convey life-saving road safety messages to the public and to the high-risk target audiences viewing the event.
“The Rally enthusiasts are predominantly young men, and we want to talk directly to this ‘at risk’ group who follow the sport. Just like any other sport, there is a time and a place for rally driving. These events are heavily marshalled and take place in a highly disciplined and controlled environment. The drivers are specially trained and must wear special personal protective gear. Along with this, the cars are specially prepared for the purpose of rallying. Trying this without all of these precautions would be extremely unsafe.” explained Noel Brett, Chief Executive, RSA. “That is why we want to remind everyone attending the Donegal International Rally to drive safely – and “Keep The Race In Its Place”.
Setting this example is well known rally driver Aaron McHale, Board Member of the RSA, successful rally driver and son of rallying legend Austin McHale. He is helping to get across these important safety messages to the public as part of an advertising campaign.
“As a rally driver I am acutely aware of the need for safety,” explained Aaron McHale, “It is the top priority for all rally drivers and it should be the top priority for all road users. You simply cannot drive on open roads the same way that professional rally drivers do on closed roads with a co-driver warning you of upcoming obstacles and hazards. Ordinary drivers just don’t drive under the same strict health and safety requirements and when driving on public roads must obey the rules of the road.”
“We’re expecting thousands of fans to attend the Donegal International Rally,” explained Alex Sinclair, Chief Executive, Motorsport Ireland. “And by teaming up with the RSA we want to emphasise the importance of safety, both on the rally course and on the open road. And anyone attending the rally will be getting the message that ‘safety wins’ loud and clear.”
The “Keep the Race in its Place” campaign reminds people to only watch the Special Stages from safety zones, never to enter prohibited areas, and between stages and afterwards, to follow the rally drivers’ lead by staying within the speed limits, by staying belted-in, and by never ever drinking and driving.
Toni Kelly, professional rally driver, and native of Co. Donegal had this message for motorsport enthusiasts: “As a spectator, watching a rally take place right in front if your eyes is an exhilarating and exciting experience but many often forget that it is a sport that incurs a lot of background safety checks and strict regulations for those involved. It is not something that just anyone with a car can attempt to replicate. What I would say to any rallying enthusiasts is to look to a professional school or track to fulfil that ambition and not to risk the lives and safety of others by taking to public roads with what can be potentially fatal consequences.”
Fans travelling to and from the Donegal International Rally next weekend are urged to heed the message from the rally drivers – to ‘Keep the Race in its Place’, slow down, don’t drink and drive and always wear a seatbelt.