Rallycorp, the commercial rights holder for the Australian Rally Championship, has suffered another major body blow, with board member Michael Thompson resigning.

Just days after manufacturers’ representative Ben Beazley resigned from the board, Thompson has stated business and time issues as the reasons for his departure, but it is understood the problems at Rallycorp have hastened his decision.

There are reports of Rallycorp's financial instability, issues between Rallycorp and the Pirtek Rally Team that need to be resolved, and the expected, but sudden, departure of former chairman Garry Connelly.

Thompson was unwilling to comment too much on his departure from Rallycorp as he, like other board members, signed a non-disclosure agreement when he joined the board, but admitted that financially, all wasn’t as good as it has been in the past.

“It has always been Rallycorp’s intent to put all the money it receives back into rallying, and in my time there, that is certainly what has happened,” Thompson said. “The other board members put in many, many hours of voluntary time and they all have rallying at heart.”

RallySport Magazine understands that when the ARC had three manufacturers and a major naming rights sponsor, it was possible to run the championship profitably, but with the departure of Subaru and Mitsubishi in recent years, things haven’t been as buoyant as they could be.

Rallycorp pays an annual fee of $100,000 to CAMS for the rights to run the championship, as well as up to $40,000 per event on safety and communications, as well as a payment to each individual event director. Understandably, all this takes its toll when times get tough.

Thompson, however, is happy with the job he has done with Rallycorp, citing the privateers’ Rally Challenge as one of the things that has helped improve the championship.

“I think through the development of the Rally Challenge there is now an opportunity for privateer teams to buy TV coverage and give their sponsors great exposure, which hasn’t always been possible in the past,” he added.

With Thompson’s departure, it leaves only chairman Steve Ashton and AMSC representative Steve Chopping on the Rallycorp board. Ashton, however, is also expected to resign in the near future, as has been planned for some months.

That makes for interesting, and difficult, times for Rallycorp over the coming weeks. A prolonged discussion with the Pirtek Rally Team over whether they are a privateer or a manufacturer-supported team is having a major impact on the proposed television coverage for the 2008 season, and there seems to be plenty of water likely to go under the bridge before a resolution becomes clear.

Unfortunately for the Australian Rally Championship, the Christmas break doesn’t look like being as happy and as festive as it could be.

In the meantime, there are major announcements regarding rallying likely to be made over the next few weeks - or possibly sooner, according to RallySport Magazine insiders.

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