The north coast and Ballymoney will soon be echoing to the sound of highly tuned motors as one of the oldest rallies in the world comes to town.
Combining the breathtaking scenary of the area and the top rally drivers from Ireland, England and Europe, motorsport fans are in for a real treat with this year’s Circuit of Ireland on their doorstep.
With just five weeks to the 85th Circuit of Ireland Rally, top international drivers Neil Simpson and Chris Ingram helped officially launch this year’s Circuit which takes place from 7-9 April.
The Circuit of Ireland is one of 10 rallies in the prestigious FIA European Rally Championship calendar and will be the only round of the ERC in the UK and Ireland. For the first time in almost a decade it will also be part of the British Rally Championship (BRC). The Circuit is also counting rounds of the Irish Tarmac Championship and the Northern Ireland Championship.
Last year over 78,000 people came to view the stunning stages across counties Antrim and Down and organisers anticipate the three-day festival will this year attract over 80,000 visitors and spectators from countries worldwide. The event will be broadcast on Discovery, Eurosport and global partners, BT Sport, Channel 4 and Irish networks to over 40 million viewers across the world.
At the launch Rally Director Bobby Willis announced: “The Circuit will be returning to the two famous, iconic stages of Glendun which is a moorland stage and very fast and Torr Head which is a lumpy and bumpy stage on the edge of a drop into the sea.
“To make it more difficult we are combining the two of them together for a 31km stage which has never been done before. It is beautiful and with the helicopter following the top European, British and Irish drivers along this stunning scenary you can bet it will be spectacular viewing.
“From there the route goes through more Game of Thrones countryside when we go to the Dark hedges for a photo opportunity before moving on to the Bushmills Distillery which we will be using as a back drop for our re-group.
“After that we go to Ballymoney where we will be using the Joey Dunlop Centre as we are tying up with the home of the iconic sportsman Joey Dunlop.”
The Joey Dunlop Leisure Centre will be set up as a Technical Zone for the cars.