At the beginning of a New Year we would all usually be looking forward to the start of a new season of “ MRA Off Road” racing and activity.
Sadly however this awful Corona-virus situation is still dominating our lives and as a consequence has once again put our seasons hopes and plans on hold for the time being.
Currently Government Restrictions state that all Motorsports Venues should remain closed. That restriction is in force until at least the 5th February 21 unless otherwise stated. This then sadly means that all MRA activity is suspended until further notice.
In all honestly it is difficult to think that given the current alarming rise in Covid-19 infections and the unprecedented demand on our hospitals and NHS services, that the level of restrictions now in place will be eased to any major extent during the month of February at the very least.
The real hope for us all now and our sport in general, perhaps lies with the arrival of a number of vaccines and with a vaccination programme now in place which will eventually help to see a return to some sort of normality for us all and of course a welcome return to our sport and racing calendar as soon as possible in the earlier part of 2021.
In the meantime a lot of planning has been taking place and with thanks to our secretary Louise Houston who has produced a full list of proposed dates, promoting clubs, events, venues and Championship status for the year ahead. Once this dates list has been considered and approved by our MRA clubs we would plan to publish the list on our website and Facebook pages as soon as possible.
In particular an account has been taken on the proposed dates for some of the Mainland based Championships such as the ACU British Youth and Adult C/Ships, the MX National C/Ships and the ACU / Nora Quad and Sidecar C/Ship events. All with a view to keeping these dates clear where possible of any proposed dates for Ulster Youth, Adult, Quad and Sidecar Championship events.
New 2021 Adult and Youth licence application forms are now available from MRA clubs. When applying for a 2021 MRA licence you will see a substantial reduction in the cost from the usual licence fees. This is taking into account a very much restricted 2020 Season as a result of the Covid-19 Pandemic had on the number of events which the MRA were in a position to promote last season.
As an association we have developed close links to Government Departments and Sporting Bodies i.e. Department for Communities and Sport NI and we can assure you that we will be lobbying strongly to see a return to our “Off Road” sporting activity as soon as possible in 2021.
In the meantime please do Take Care and Stay Safe and we will look forward to seeing you all back at our events and on the tracks very soon.
MRA Motorcycle Racing Association ( Ireland ) Ltd.
MRA Reflections on 2020
Please be assured that everyone involved in the MRA first and foremost have a love for the sport of Off Road Motorcycling.. Everyone had hoped to have a superb season’s racing, with many preparations made at the start of the year we were raring to go.
In mid-December 2019 the MRA paid in full the Total Premium to cover the cost of insurance for all our planned Youth and Adult events in all disciplines for the 2020 season.
Each year MRA choose a worthy charity and for 2020 it was Air Ambulance Northern Ireland to whom in early January we donated £1,000 plus a further £500 was raised through donations from a virtual motocross race during the early part of lock down.
The early months of 2020 saw all the usual planning take place for almost 70 MRA events including all Ulster and Irish Championship rounds. Once again an MRA Fixtures Booklet for 2020 was completed and published for the year ahead.
Those early months of 2020 also saw the MRA successfully apply and subsequently be awarded another Sport NI / Department for Communities Equipment Grant which was administered through the 2 & 4 Wheel organisation. This saw the purchase and supply of over 2000 meters of Chestnut Fencing, 2000 Track Posts, a quantity of portable Two- Way Radio and PA Equipment along with Safety Barriers and Fire Extinguishers all distributed to MRA clubs and circuits.
It is worth noting that all Off Road Competitors and Clubs irrespective of which organisation they participate with will all to an extent benefit from this equipment grant which will be used at many of our permanent motocross venues throughout the Province.
Then March 2020 arrived and unfortunately so to did this awful COVID19 virus. MRA Clubs did promote some events in the early part of the year and into the start of March before it became clear that we would have really no option but to suspend our planned event schedule indefinitely from the 17th March due to the alarming rise in Covid infections and the subsequently imposed Government restrictions.
Our task thereafter was to continually be in contact with the relevant Government Authorities as to when we could safely see and expect clearance for a resumption to our race season.
As the months progressed and without approval to restart our season it became more and more evident that any hope for our Clubs to enjoy and able to promote Ulster and Irish Championship events during 2020 was going to be difficult if not impossible to achieve. This indeed eventually did turn out to be the case.
No Ulster or Irish Championships in 2020.
For information MRA clubs traditionally promote 28 Championship events covering all disciplines during a normal season. i.e Ulster Adult and Youth Motocross events, Irish Adult and Youth Motocross events . Ulster Adult and Youth Quad and Sidecar Cross events and Irish Adult and Youth Quad and Sidecar Cross events
Added to the Championship events already noted, MRA clubs had also hoped to promote many of their own very popular Club Events along with a series of Adult Cross Country and Enduro events. Not forgetting the traditional Portrush Beach race and the recently rejuvenated Winter Supermoto series.
We had looked forward to rounds of the British Adult and Youth Motocross Championship events being promoted by the Cookstown Club at Desertmartin. Sadly as a result and due to Covid & travel restrictions these events could not be run and we as a result lost some of the traditional highlights of our Off Road Season.
After many anxious weeks & months it was in late July before we officially received Government clearance to recommence our season with all related Covid 19 restrictions and precautions in place. To ensure compliance with these structures the MRA purchased a quantity of COVID19 related signage along with quantities of required PPE equipment and sanitizing product for distribution to any of our 19 affiliated clubs who planned to promote events during what was to be left of a very much COVID curtailed 2020 season. ( It is envisaged that we may have to add to this signage and PPE equipment, particularly in the early part of 2021 to ensure all our Clubs are well equipped and will not have to incur additional expense with the purchase of COVID19 related requirements )
After Government approval we were delighted that the Northern Ireland Classic Scrambles Club, the Errigal Club and the Carrick Club all promoted excellent and exciting events with encouraging numbers of eager competitors during the months of August, September and early October.
Indeed any MRA club that had wished to promoted events during the latter part of the season would have been granted an event permit without question. We are indeed hopeful that despite additional recent restrictions we could still see some Supermoto events promoted before year end.
Additionally, between mid -August & September, 14 candidates successfully completed an MRA organised coaching and training course. Congratulations to all who participated.
In closing we are hopeful to be able to offer all competitors a substantial reduction in the cost of an MRA licence for 2021 and look forward to confirming this very soon after our Annual General Meeting.
A year to remember or a year to forget, whichever way you see it, please do take care, stay safe and the MRA in association with all our affiliated clubs look forward to the promotion of a full range of “Off Road Activities and Events” during 2021.
The Directors & Senior Officials M R A