North Antrim ready as Circuit of Ireland rolls into town

Griebel Marijan Clemens Stefan Opel Adam Action during the 2015 European Rally Championship ERC Circuit of Ireland rally . Photo Fran�ois Flamand / DPPI

Griebel Marijan Clemens Stefan Opel Adam Action during the 2015 European Rally Championship ERC Circuit of Ireland rally . Photo Fran�ois Flamand / DPPI

Top rally drivers from as far afield as China and Australia are gearing up for this year’s 85th Circuit of Ireland Rally which takes place this week.

Organisers of the circuit are looking forward to an even bigger and better event when this year’s international rally rolls into north Antrim and other spectacular locations throughout Northern Ireland.

Belfast will host the Rally HQ and Service Park with the King’s Hall complex welcoming competitors, team personnel, fans and visitors from over 20 nations from Wednesday, April 6.

Fans will have several opportunities to see the rally action from Thursday 7th to Saturday 9th April.

The Qualifying Stage of the rally will be based at Antrim Castle Gardens on Thursday 7th April in the afternoon, followed by a Ceremonial Start outside the Irish Linen Centre and Lisburn Museum from 6.30pm with special guest Louis Walsh. Entertainment in Lisburn City Centre in the evening includes a free concert from 8.30pm with local star singer Flash Harry.

Friday 8th April features rural stages close to Larne and Ballymena and includes a refuel halt at the famous Ballymena Showgrounds. Friday’s route includes stunning stages in the Causeway Coast and Glens region encompassing Torr Head and Glendun as well as a passage control at the Dark Hedges and a regroup at Bushmills Distillery.

A special Ards TT Stage will take place in Newtownards town centre on Friday evening 8th April. Competitive rallying on the Saturday will include stages close to Banbridge, Ballynahinch and Dromore with town centre regroups in Downpatrick and Banbridge.

The rally will finish back in Belfast on the evening of Saturday April 9th and will culminate in a special closing ceremony outside Queen’s University when the 2016 winners will be presented with the famous historic Circuit of Ireland trophy.