The Donnelly Group Circuit of Ireland Rally will take its place on Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) series in 2012.

Broadcast across Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas by Eurosport, the IRC series last year boasted a global viewing audience of 79 million and affirms the Circuit of Ireland’s arrival once again on a worldwide sporting stage.

The 13 round IRC series will travel Europe with the Circuit of Ireland Rally being the only UK or Irish round on the calendar which will be hosted in its traditional Easter slot 6/7 April 2012.

The IRC is the third most popular motorsport series after Formula 1 and the World Rally Championship, with thousands expected to flock to these shores to watch the action.

Irish drivers have competed well on the IRC series in recent years. It was won by Dungannon’s Kris Meeke in 2009 and last year featured Irish drivers, Jonny Greer (Carryduff), Craig Breen (Waterford), Robert Barrable (Dublin) and Alastair Fisher (Trillick).

A jubilant Bobby Willis, Event Director of the Donnelly Group Circuit of Ireland Rally said: “We’ve done it! When we took over the running of the Rally in 2010 we stated that we wanted to re-awaken the sleeping giant that is the Circuit of Ireland and today’s announcement is the realisation of that vision.

“Be under no illusions this country can look forward to hosting a truly world class sporting event in 2012, a rally that will captivate the fans and the general public alike as we bring the Rally to the people.”

Over recent years the Circuit of Ireland Rally has started in Dundalk and Armagh, with the rally hosting a super special stage in the centre of Lisburn last year which brought more than 15,000 to watch the action.

Precise details surrounding the Rally will be launched in the next few weeks, but Willis has promised another super special stage in a new host city which is sure to showcase the skills of the IRC and Circuit of Ireland competitors.