The new Irish Tarmac season gets underway in Galway in four weeks’ time. Picture: ITRC

The Irish Tarmac Rally Championship (ITRC) will have a title sponsor for the first time since the 2017 season, it has been announced.

The agreement reached with Cork-based business Acesigns comes just four weeks before the start of the new season, which kicks off in Galway on the weekend of February 5-6.

The cross-border series has been without a principal backer since the end of the 2017 campaign when a successful agreement spanning four years with food company Clonakilty Blackpudding concluded.

In November 2017, Championship Manager Paddy Flanagan announced that a three-year deal with London-based music collective Dance To Tipperary had been agreed, only for this to fall through prior to the opening round in 2018.

A core aspect of the deal included the co-production and distribution of television and media content, however with contractual obligations believed to have not been met, the agreement was dissolved.

With the ITRC not going ahead last year due to COVID restrictions, Flanagan and his backroom staff have used the time to attract a fresh sponsor. Acesigns is not new to the ITRC given its association in recent times with the Cork ’20’ International Rally.

Announcing the agreement, Colman Hegarty, Chairman of the Tarmac Rally Organisers’ Association, said: “We are absolutely delighted to welcome Acesigns as title sponsors of Ireland’s premier international rally championship.

“Acesigns’ managing director, Neil Phelan, is a long-time supporter of Irish rallying so it is fitting that a progressive company like Acesigns has teamed up with ITRC to promote rallying even further.

“Together, we are looking forward to taking rallying out of these difficult times. The Galway International Rally is shaping up to be a great start to the year and hopefully it is a sign of what is to come this season.”

Acesigns Director Neil Phelan added: “We are very proud and excited to be title sponsor of the prestigious Irish Tarmac Rally Championship.

“I am passionate about rallying and have been involved in different aspects of the sport for many years. I hope that the Acesigns Ford Escort will be able to compete in as many rounds as possible.

“I would like to wish ITRC organisers the best of luck in running this year’s championship and that each event will be safe and enjoyable for clubs, competitors, and spectators.”

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