The Triton Easter Stages Rally the second round of the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship (ITRC) due to take place this weekend across Counties Down and Antrim, has been cancelled, writes John Kenny

The rally was to use a number of roads in the Dromara Hills, around Slieve Croob, which are buried under snowdrifts of up to 12 feet.

Clearing efforts were expected to make some progress by the weekend, but the forecast of continued low temperatures - in the midst of the ongoing difficulties being experienced by residents and farmers of the area - have caused organisers to take the decision.

The Easter Stages Rally was set to replace the Circuit of Ireland Rally in 2013, which was postponed due to insufficient funding.

The event was scheduled to start this Saturday in Lisburn and finish in Ballynahinch on Saturday evening.

Derek McGarrity, two time Irish rally champion, has seen his Subaru Impreza stranded behind four-foot snowdrifts in his workshops in Newstownabbey.

"We've been snowed in here for two days," McGarrity told the Belfast Telegraph

"The mechanics couldn't even get in to finish preparing the cars and if they had it wouldn't have made any difference – we didn't have any electricity!

"We brought in diggers to clear the road but the drifts were so big it took 12 hours before we could get in or out. It's been a real nightmare."

All Easter rally competitors, staff, marshals, sponsors, and event partners are now being contacted, and a full announcement of our future plans will be made in due course.