By John Kenny
The Circuit of Ireland Rally, one of the oldest motorsport events in the world will be significantly enhanced for 2014 with the announcement that it is set to feature in next year’s revamped 12 round FIA European Rally Championship calendar.
Subject to final approval by the FIA, motorsport’s world governing body, the rally will make its return to the ERC roster after a one year absence and is scheduled to take place during its traditional Easter Week-end slot on 18-19 April.
The Circuit of Ireland will be the only UK and Ireland based round in the Championship.
The full route details will be outlined early next year but it’s anticipated that the two-day rally will include some of Northern Ireland’s top tourism landmarks in counties Down and Antrim as well as locations in Belfast and will be broadcast by Eurosport
"The management team as well as our 700 plus volunteers are extremely proud and excited to be part of a new look ERC programme" said Circuit of Ireland event director Bobby Willis.
"The world’s second oldest rally the Circuit of Ireland Rally has always attracted high profile competitors and our inclusion in the 2014 ERC programme will help draw some of the best in the sport to Northern Ireland."
As an integral part of the European Rally Championship the 2014 Circuit of Ireland organisers expect to sign up the best of the ERC, a series for non world rally championship cars
Top competitors being linked to ERC campaigns include Bryan Bouffier from France, Sepp Wiegand from Germany, Andreas Aigner from Austria as well as Waterford driver Craig Breen and Robert Barrable from Swords.
Local drivers also likely to participate include Fermanagh based Alastair Fisher and former British Junior Rally Champion Marty McCormack.