Belfast to play central role in 2015 Circuit of Ireland Rally
Europe’s top drivers will be revving up in the heart of Belfast over a three-day period this Easter when the city welcomes the 2015 Circuit of Ireland Rally.
Circuit of Ireland organisers have announced that Belfast will again be a key host of the international event, with a ceremonial start taking place at the City Hall on Thursday 2 April.
The Circuit, which will run across stunning stages in counties Antrim and Down, will be part of the prestigious FIA European Rally Championship for the second year and counts as round two of the 2015 FIA ERC Junior Championship.
The rally will finish back in Belfast on the evening of Saturday April 4 and the winner will be crowned at Belfast’s Titanic Quarter, the site of the Rally HQ and Service Park, which will welcome over 1,000 competitors and team personnel over four days from Wednesday 1 April.
Following the success of last year’s rally, Eurosport Events will again broadcast footage of this year’s Circuit, and expects to attract more than 14 million viewers globally.
It’s anticipated the event will generate over £1.5m for the local economy, as thousands of spectators and teams officials travel to Northern Ireland, and book an estimated 10,000 bed nights.
Belfast City Council is a key partner of the Circuit of Ireland and Lord Mayor, Councillor Nichola Mallon said:
“I am delighted that the Circuit of Ireland Rally has once again chosen Belfast for its ceremonial start and finish line. Following on from the success of last year’s rally, I have no doubt that this year’s event will be bigger and better.
“It’s fantastic to see Belfast now recognised as one of the world’s premier sporting venues. Our reputation for hosting events continues to grow as we also look forward to hosting the start of the Tall Ships races this summer.”
Circuit of Ireland Event Director Bobby Willis said the organising team was keen to build on the huge success of the 2014 event.
“Last year’s ceremonial start at Belfast City Hall created an amazing atmosphere for fans and provided a great welcome for rally stars from across Europe so we’re thrilled that Belfast City Council is partnering with us again.
“The stages across counties Antrim and Down were massively successful, attracting almost 74,000 spectators while over 14 million viewers across the world watched the various stages in 2014 on Eurosport and its global media partners.
“This year we hope to make our legendary event even bigger and better and we’re confident that fans will enjoy another fantastic line-up of world-class drivers across challenging stages.
“We’re delighted that the Circuit of Ireland is part of the prestigious FIA European Rally Championship and Junior Championship for the second year and we look forward to welcoming some of the great up and coming young drivers from overseas, as well as our first Northern Irish contender to commit, Jon Armstrong.”
Twenty year Armstrong, from Kesh in County Fermanagh, is embarking on his first ERC Junior Championship this year and will head to the Rally Liepāja in Latvia next month before returning to Northern Ireland ahead of the Circuit of Ireland Rally.
He’ll be competing in a new car this season – a Peugeot 208 R2 – and he brought it to Belfast City Hall so Lord Mayor Councillor Nichola Mallon could get a sneak preview.
”I’ve been watching the Circuit of Ireland as long as I can remember and I’m very excited about taking part in it this year for the first time. Driving in an event at home is always nice as the fans are great and I’m hoping that will help me stay relaxed and focussed come Easter weekend.”
For the first time this year, each round of the ERC, including the Circuit of Ireland, will award a 20,000 euro prize to the highest placed privately entered drivers. This year’s event will also be counting rounds of the 2015 Irish Tarmac Championship and the Northern Ireland Rally Championship.
Circuit organisers will soon announce further details on the rally route, stages and entries.
For up to date information on the 2014 Circuit of Ireland visit www.circuitofireland.net
Follow on Facebook.com/circuitofireland or twitter @CircuitIreland.
For up-to-date information visit www.circuitofireland.net
For ERC details visit www.fiaerc.com
Photo is of Circuit of Ireland Event Director Bobby Willis with Lord Mayor Councillor Nichola Mallon and Jon Armstrong from Kesh who will compete on the ERC Junior Championship this year.
Media contact: Andrea Kennedy or Rosemary Allister, JPR, 028 9076 0066
The FIA European Rally Championship calendar for 2015 is as follows:
Round 1: Jännerrallye (Austria, asphalt/ice/snow): 4-6 January 2015
Round 2: Rally Liepāja (Latvia, gravel/ice/snow): 6-8 February 2015 (J)
Round 3: Circuit of Ireland Rally (Northern Ireland, asphalt): 2-4 April 2015 (J)
Round 4: SATA Rallye Açores (Portugal, gravel): 4-6 June 2015 (J)
Round 5: Geko Ypres Rally (Belgium, asphalt): 25-27 June 2015 (J)
Round 6: auto24 Rally Estonia (gravel): 17-19 July 2015 (J)*
Round 7: Barum Czech Rally Zlín (Czech Republic, asphalt): 28-30 August 2015 (J)
Round 8: Cyprus Rally (gravel): 25-27 September 2015
Round 9; Rally of Greece (gravel): 9-11 October 2015*
Round 10: Giru di Corsica-Tour de Corse (France, asphalt): 5-7 November 2015
(J) Indicates FIA ERC Junior Championship round
*Subject to signing of ERC Promoter agreement