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Circuit of Ireland Rally - 23-24 Apr 11

Posted: June 1, 2011 9:21 AM - 22923 Hits

Round 2 - 2011 Tarmac Championship
Round 3 - 2011 Northern Ireland Rally Challenge
Round 1 - 2011 Ford Fiesta SportTrophy Ireland

In Car

Posted: June 1, 2011 9:21 AM

Darren Gass/Enda Sherry (Subaru Impreza WRC) - SS1


TREVOR FERGUSON/DAVID MCELROY (Subaru Impreza N12B) Lisburn Power Stage

Video Clips

Posted: June 1, 2011 9:17 AM







RPM Videos

Posted: June 1, 2011 9:05 AM



THANK YOU! from Bobby Willis

Posted: May 31, 2011 11:07 AM

"The Circuit of Ireland is over, for another year, and I want to pass on my heartfelt thanks to everybody who supported the event this year.

Most importantly, to my fellow organisers – who have worked so hard throughout the last 12 months (many of them travelling for up to 2 hours every Monday night for our organisation meetings), few realise how much work it takes – I, as a co-driver, never did – I do now!

    · to the Stage managers and commanders, who worked so hard on the event before hand, preparing and making ready our stages

    · to the hundreds of Marshals who give up their weekend to stand out in the wilds and make the rally work

    · to those controlling and running the Service Park, it was a tight squeeze, but we made it

    · to the backroom and secretarial people, who rarely get any credit for the mountains of paperwork and organisation that they supply

    · to our radio, timekeeper, medical and rescue teams, as well as the results officials, who keep everything running

    · to the managers and officials of our two family friendly events – the Armagh Pre-Start and the Lisburn Power Stage – both were absolutely fantastic and show a new turn for rallying

    · to the competitors for putting up with some of our last minute changes and the occasions when things didn’t go right

    · to our stewards and scrutineers, who helped with the general running of the event

    · to our commentators, both in Lisburn and Armagh for keeping everyone so informed

    · to the residents on the stages, who accepted us and allowed us to close them in for many hours over the weekend

    · to our sponsors the Donnelly Group, UTV Drive, NITB, Triton Showers, the Cross Group, the Armagh City Hotel as well as the many companies who supported our cause - by helping us with supply or discounted services

    · to our PR company Lighthouse Communications who have managed our publicity so well;

    · to Armagh and Lisburn Council, who backed our ideas of bringing rallying to the people and helped us with the two fabulous events interwoven into the rally

    · to the media who have backed our cause so much and given us such incredible publicity

    · to the tens of thousands of spectators who thronged to the stages – thank you for obeying the marshals and keeping safe. Thank you especially to those who have supported the event and bought a programme

    · to the motor clubs involved with the running of our event,

    · to our governing bodies – the Motorsport Association and Motorsport Ireland
Without all of your help, this event would have been nothing.

The ‘Sleeping Giant’ is waking!!"

Bobby Willis
Event Director - Circuit of Ireland Rally 2011

McKinstry Tops Hankook N.I. Rally Series!

Posted: May 31, 2011 11:02 AM

The opening day of this year's Donnelly Group Circuit of Ireland Rally was also a counting round of the Hankook MSA Northern Ireland Stage Rally Championship, and series leader Kenny McKinstry locked horns with Derek McGarrity throughout all 10 stages.

McGarrity had upgraded his Group N Evo for an Impreza WRC, giving him the extra power he needed to challenge for overall honours, although it also brought him some problems.

A few days before the rally, engine problems forced him to borrow an engine from Niall Maguire. The replacement was only fitted to his car the day before the rally, leaving the Glengormley driver no time to test.

That failed to dent his confidence, and McGarrity immediately moved into a 2.9 second lead after the opening stage. Then Kenny McKinstry pulled time back on the following test, leaving just one-tenth of a second between the two crews.

A titanic battle between two titans of Irish rallying was developing, and the fans were in for a real Easter treat!

McKinstry, who had Kenny Hull calling the pace notes, was fastest again on stage three to move into a seven second lead, but then the tide started to turn in McGarrity's favour. He was fastest on stages four, five and six to turn that seven second deficit into a seven second advantage, as he accelerated to the top of the order.

McGarrity edged further ahead at the Lisburn Power Stage, which was packed with an estimated 15,000 spectators, but then McKinstry started to fight back. Over the two runs through the Banbridge North stage, he reduced McGarrity's lead to just 2.7 seconds.

With one stage remaining before the end of the opening leg, it was McKinstry's last opportunity to claim maximum points for the Hankook N.I. Rally series. He pulled out all of the stops over the final nine-mile test to move to the top of the order, 1.6 seconds ahead of McGarrity!

While the battle for Circuit of Ireland Rally spoils was set to continue into the second day, the final Saturday stage times counted towards the third round of the Northern Ireland Championship. Kenny McKinstry and Kenny Hull had secured maximum points by the slenderest of margins, with Derek McGarrity and James McKee second overall.

Third placed Kevin Barrett and fourth placed Garry Jennings were not registered for the championship, so fifth placed Neil McCance secured nine championship points, winning the Sunoco Fuels Group N category in the process. They finished 13.1 seconds ahead of Donagh Kelly and Kevin Flanagan.

In the Hankook two-wheel-drive category, Drew Stewart was the highest placed registered competitor, finishing 15th overall. Michael Conlon claimed second placed championship points ahead of Fintan McGrady.

There was a tight tussle in the Montgomery Motorsport Historic category, with Dessie McCartney and Maurice Jellie clinging on to win by nine-tenths of a second from Andy Johnson and Jim McSherry.

And in round one of the Fiesta Sport Trophy Ireland, Stephen Baxter and Daragh Mullan won from Declan Leonard and Dermot McCafferty.

McGarrity's Maximum Circuit of Ireland Rally Thriller!

Posted: May 31, 2011 11:00 AM

Derek McGarrity and James McKee in their Subaru Impreza WRC claimed maximum points at round two of the Irish Tarmac Championship when they secured victory at last weekend's Donnelly Group Circuit of Ireland Rally, in association with UTV Drive!

The win marked McGarrity's fifth success on the event, as he closes in on Jimmy McRae's long-standing record of seven 'Circuit' victories. The result also promotes him to fifth in the championship tables after he failed to score on round one of the series in Galway.

McGarrity enjoyed a weekend-long battle with non-championship competitor, Kenny McKinstry. It was McKinstry who led the rally in his Impreza WRC by a slender 1.6 seconds at the end of day one, but a spin during the final leg saw the two-times Irish Tarmac Champion lose ground.

McGarrity capitalised on McKinstry's misfortune, and the Glengormley driver went on to secure his fifth Circuit of Ireland Rally win by 41.7 seconds.

McKinstry and navigator Kenny Hull claimed second overall, but third place for Kevin Barrett and Sean Mullally was enough to promote them to the top of the Irish Tarmac Championship tables.

In the Group N category, Donagh Kelly and Kevin Flanagan claimed the spoils but they are not registered for this year's series. Instead, Brendan Cumiskey and Jason Ollerenshaw took maximum production points, promoting them to third in the Championship standings.

Next up were Sam Moffett and James O'Reilly whose second placed points were enough to move them to the top of the production category and to second position in the Overall Championship.

In the Historic category, Mervyn Johnston and Wendy Blackledge were the sole finishers, allowing them to maintain their historic championship lead, while Alan Courtney and Paul Soutar extended their lead in the Classic Cars category after a great drive in their Porsche 92B.

Fiesta Sport Trophy Ireland - Baxter’s Bonus on the Circuit of Ireland…

Posted: May 31, 2011 10:57 AM

Stephen Baxter took the first Fiesta Sport Trophy Ireland win of the year on the Donnelly Group Circuit of Ireland Rally. The Saturday stages of the Circuit of Ireland were a counting round of both the Fiesta Sporting Trophy Ireland and the Hankook MSA NI Rally Championship and a good turnout of ST and R2 Fiesta’s joined the 99 crews in sunny Armagh City during the Easter weekend.

The five Fiestas’ were seeded in a group within the main field and a fierce battle was expected among the Irish young guns. Ten closed road stages were planned for the crews with just over 60 stage miles with the winner due back in Armagh on Saturday evening around 9 pm.

Leading the FST crews away, with number 64 on the door, was 2010 NI 2wd Group N Champions Jonny Leonard and Jackie Elliot. The Fermanagh ST crew had enjoyed a fantastic season in 2010, not only winning their class but they also scooped the Hankook Junior prize drive; an expenses paid drive in a R2 Fiesta on the 2011 Ypres Rally in June. They arrived in Armagh on the back of one class win already this year and one retirement so they hoped for some better luck on this one.

Seeded at number 65 was the Fiesta R2 of Stephen Baxter and Daragh Mullan. They were another Fermanagh pairing who were enjoying local success of late. Their first run out this year brought a class win at Kirkistown and a consistent run at Bishopscourt saw them in a strong position in the Hankook sponsored series.

At 66 & 67 were the Leonard brothers, Dara and Declan in a pair of Fiesta ST’s. The Omagh team proving that they are on the class winning pace in only their first NIRC season, with Dara holding the slight advantage over his sibling at this point in the season.

Starting at 68 was the local crew of Philip Ewart and Scott McMahon and with some of the stages right on their doorstep they were hoping to have a slight advantage on the rest of the Fiesta contingent.

Stage 1, the Hollow, was just a short drive from the start ramp in Armagh City and it was Declan Leonard who topped the FST timesheets, just 0.9 seconds faster than his brother Dara at the end of the opening 9.01 miles of the rally. Next up was Stephen Baxter, the R2 driver making a slow start as he got used to the first closed road event of the year.

In early trouble was Philip Ewart and Scott McMahon, their local knowledge proving to be of no advantage when they broke a driveshaft on a square left around three quarters of the way through the first stage. They were able to crawl to the end of the test but retired shortly afterwards. Jonny Leonard, no relation to the aforementioned Leonard brothers, was also having a poor start to the event. He also encountered driveshaft maladies and was forced to nurse the ST through the first trio of stages before the problem could be rectified.

Stage 2 took the crews deep into the famous Orchard County of Armagh. The seven mile test just north of the village of Loughgall provided the setting and this time it was Dara Leonard who headed the FST Ireland times, but it was Stephen Baxter in the R2 that was his nearest pursuer, posting a time just 0.9 seconds slower with Declan Leonard some 10.7 seconds further back.

The third stage brought the crews south of Armagh City, but with a blockage on the stage, all the FST crews received an equal time and as they arrived back to the service park, it was Dara Leonard who held the advantage by just 10.9 seconds from his brother Declan with Stephen Baxter some 40 seconds behind after that slow time on SS1. Jonny Leonard made it back to service but was now suffering from an oil leak on to the clutch which was to hamper any ideas he had of trying to challenge the leading pack.

Stage four was the repeat of SS1 from earlier in the day and Stephen Baxter made up for his poor time earlier on by slicing 52 seconds off his previous time, and as a consequence he reduced the gap between himself and the Leonard brothers to just under over 15 seconds.

Dara’s 10.9 second lead at first service now turned into a 2 second deficit after stage four and on stage five Baxter grabbed the FST lead by 5 seconds after blitzing both ST crews through the repeated Loughgall stage.

The rally now moved on to the ‘Power Stage’ in Lisburn City Centre and the rally crews thrilled an estimated 15,000 spectators, plus the countless thousands who followed the live footage online, around two runs of the 0.64 mile test. Baxter again showed the R2 at its best, stopping the clocks on his first run at 1:01.6 and then improving slightly on the second pass with a 59.9. The ST mounted crews all posted comparable times on their first attempt with Declan, Dara and Jonny all on 1:03.0 and 1:01’s on the repeat visit.

At this point in the event Stephen Baxter was lying 29th overall with Declan and Dara Leonard in 31st and 33rd overall respectively. As the rally turned back towards Armagh, three more stages lay between the remaining crews and the finish ramp.

Through stages eight and nine around Banbridge, the overall positions remained static. Baxter again heading the timesheets with Dara beating Declan through eight and then Declan returned the favour on nine. As the crews approached Armagh for the final blast word filtered through that the final stage was blocked by an earlier accident so Baxter returned to the Armagh City Hotel with maximum points on the first Fiesta Sport Trophy Ireland event of the year.

Provisional Results – Fiesta Sporting Trophy Ireland after Round 1:
1. Stephen Baxter/Daragh Mullan – Fiesta R2 – 1:09:31.6 - (12 points)
2. Declan Leonard/Dermot McCafferty – Fiesta ST – 1:10:01.9 (10 points)
3. Dara Leonard/Paddy Robinson – Fiesta ST – 1:10:17.9 (9 points)
4. Jonny Leonard/Jackie Elliot – Fiesta ST – Retired SS8
5. Philip Ewart/Scott McMahon – Fiesta ST – Retired SS1

Full Results

Posted: May 31, 2011 10:48 AM

1 Derek McGarrity/James McKee (Subaru Impreza WRC) 1h 52m 32.4s
2 Kenny McKinstry/Kenny Hull (Subaru Impreza WRC) 1h 53m 14.1s
3 Kevin Barrett/Sean Mullally (Subaru Impreza WRC) 1h 55m 26s
4 John Dalton/Gwynfor Jones (Darrian T90 GTR) 1h 56m 44.7s
5 Phil Collins/Derek Brannigan (Ford Escort) 1h 56m 46.5s
6 Donagh Kelly/Kevin Flanagan (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 Gp N) 1h 57m 31s
7 Brendan Cumiskey/Jason Ollerenshaw (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 Gp N) 1h 58m 13.8s
8 Sam Moffett/James O’Reilly (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 Gp N) 1h 58m 32.4s
9 Adrian Hetherington/Gary Nolan (Ford Escort) 2h 00m 49.1s
10 Eugene Meegan/Niall Burns (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10 Gp N) 2h 00m 54.5s

Class winners:
Glenda Boyle/Kylie Boyle (Honda Civic),
Donagh Kelly/Kevin Flanagan,
Stephen Baxter/Daragh Mullen (Ford Fiesta),
Amy Cox/Emmet Sherry (Ford Escort),
Michael Conlon/Aidan Boyle (Ford Escort),
John Dalton/Gwynfor Jones,
Mervyn Johnston/Wendy Blackledge (Mini Cooper S),
Alan Courtney/Paul Soutar (Porsche 928),
Alan Jardine/Raymond Knox (Ford Escort).

Leaders:
SS1-2 Derek McGarrity/James McKee (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS3-4 Kenny McKinstry/Kenny Hull (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS5-9 Derek McGarrity/James McKee (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS10 Kenny McKinstry/Kenny Hull (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS11-16 Derek McGarrity/James McKee (Subaru Impreza WRC)

Stage Winners
SS1 Derek McGarrity/James McKee (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS2 Kenny McKinstry/Kenny Hull (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS3 Kenny McKinstry/Kenny Hull (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS4 Derek McGarrity/James McKee (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS5 Derek McGarrity/James McKee (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS6 Derek McGarrity/James McKee (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS7 Derek McGarrity/James McKee (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS8 Kenny McKinstry/Kenny Hull (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS9 Kenny McKinstry/Kenny Hull (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS10 Kenny McKinstry/Kenny Hull (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS11 Derek McGarrity/James McKee (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS12 Derek McGarrity/James McKee (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS13 Derek McGarrity/James McKee (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS14 John Dalton/Gwynfor Jones (Darrian T90 GTR)
SS15 Derek McGarrity/James McKee (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS16 Kenny McKinstry/Kenny Hull (Subaru Impreza WRC)

Photo from Pre Start

Posted: May 31, 2011 10:31 AM


Photo: Roy Dempster

Biggerstaff Ready For Circuit Challenge!

Posted: April 22, 2011 7:12 PM

Reigning Hankook MSA Northern Ireland Rally Champion Stuart Biggerstaff is gearing up for this weekend's Donnelly Group Circuit of Ireland Rally.

The Kinallen man, who currently lies eighth in the series standings, is hoping to make up for lost ground. Engine failure at round one of the championship forced him to retire from second overall, throwing him immediately on to the back foot at the start of the season.

He returned to action at round two where he finished fourth overall. The result got his 2011 Championship campaign off the mark, and now he is looking to increase his points tally this weekend.

To help him along the way, Biggerstaff has secured two new sponsors ahead of this weekend's Easter event, with Solo Petroleum and JGD Recycling joining the team. With their backing, together with long-time sponsors Feckin' Irish Whiskey and Millers Oils, Biggerstaff is ready to tackle the world famous event.

"When I entered the Circuit of Ireland last year, it was my first event on closed roads and my first with pace notes," Biggerstaff said. "It took me a while to settle in so I'm looking forward to this year's event now that I have a bit more experience behind me."

"It's great to have new sponsors on board as well," he continued. "Thanks must go to Solo Petroleum and JGD Recycling for supporting me, as well as my other sponsors. The car's livery has been updated and hopefully the spectators will like the new look!"

The Circuit of Ireland Rally starts on Saturday afternoon, with competitors tackling 16 stages during two days of tough competition. The winner will be crowned late on Sunday afternoon in Armagh.

Seeded Entry Lists

Posted: April 22, 2011 7:11 PM

Circuit of Ireland Rally Fans In For A Treat With UTV Drive App for iphone and Android

Posted: April 20, 2011 11:57 AM

Today’s launch of the UTV Drive App heralds yet another first for fans of this year’s Donnelly Group Circuit of Ireland Rally.

The UTV Drive App and Android application will allow fans to watch all the thrills and spills from the Lisburn Power Stage live from their iPhones or mobile devices this Easter Saturday.

The Lisburn Power Stage will be the first time that a UK city centre has closed its streets for a competitive rally stage which UTV Drive had already committed to showing live on its website www.UTVDrive.co.uk

The UTV Drive App which is FREE and available now to download from the Apple store will also enable motorsport fans to browse thousands of used cars for sale from UTV Drive anytime any place.

David Dornan, General Manager of UTV Drive said:
“We’ve been working hard to prepare this App and are delighted to be able to launch it before the Circuit begins this Saturday.

“UTV Drive is committed to the Northern Ireland motoring public and our continued investment in providing the best platforms for users to view not only the cars for sale but also the Rally will continue.”

Huge numbers of spectators are expected to attend this year’s Rally which kicks off in Armagh at midday on Easter Saturday. The Lisburn Power Stage will start at 18:00 but motorsport fans should arrive early as other performers will entertain the crowds from 17:00.

Bobby Willis, Circuit of Ireland Rally Director said:
“David and his team at UTV Drive are true friends of the Circuit of Ireland and I’ve no doubt the loyal Rally followers will download this App which is sure to add another dimension to this year’s Circuit of Ireland experience.”

The UTV Drive App can be downloaded at the Apple App Store or Android market.

Derek McGarrity Tops Entry For Circuit of Ireland Rally!

Posted: April 20, 2011 10:45 AM

Rallying bursts back into action this weekend as competitors tackle round three of the Hankook MSA Northern Ireland Stage Rally Championship, the Donnelly Group Circuit of Ireland Rally, in association with UTV Drive.

The famous event is a two-day closed road rally, although the Northern Ireland Rally Championship crews must only contest one day to pick up Championship points, as they rally through the Saturday stages in counties Armagh, Down and Antrim.

Saturday also features an exciting innovation as Lisburn becomes the first city in the UK to close its centre for a competitive rally stage. Billed as the Lisburn 'Power Stage', thousands of spectators are expected to flock to the city to watch more than 100 crews rally through the streets.

Last year's winner Derek McGarrity will lead the field away with a Subaru Impreza WRC at his disposal. He had switched to a Group N Evo for the opening rounds of this year's Hankook N.I. series, but has returned to World Rally Car power in a bid to lift the 'Circuit' crown once again.

He heads the list ahead of Darren Gass and Kevin Barrett, who are not registered for this year's series. However, number four seed Kenny McKinstry is the current championship leader, and is bidding to maintain that advantage as he aims for another N.I. Championship glory.

Reigning champion, Stuart Biggerstaff, will also be in the mix with a number of other World Rally Car crews, including Emma McKinstry, Ray Brammer, George Robinson and John McGaffin.

In the Sunoco Fuels Group N category, Donagh Kelly has an opportunity to move to the head of the class tables. With Derek McGarrity switching to a World Rally Car Subaru, which runs in class nine, a solid finish at the 'Circuit' could see Kelly move to the top of the order.

Neil McCance will also be among those fighting for the spoils, and stiff opposition will be provided by the likes of Phillip Morrow, Alan Carmichael, Mark Donnelly and Trevor Ferguson.

The two-wheel-drive category has also received a stunning entry, although not all crews are registered for the Hankook series. English businessman starts the event at number eight in his beautiful Lancia Stratos, followed by a quartet of Mark 2 Escorts with John Waring, Wesley Patterson, Phil Collins and Camillus Bradley all vying for the spoils.

The action kicks off at midday on Easter Saturday at Armagh City Hotel, which acts as the event headquarters and service area for the event. Competitors will tackle 10 stages on Saturday, including two runs through the Lisburn 'Power Stage'.

Competitors who have opted to contest the full two-day event will continue on Sunday with a further six stages, before the winners are crowned in Armagh at 4.35pm on Sunday.

Irish Tarmac Championship returns to Armagh

Posted: April 20, 2011 10:18 AM

The Irish Tarmac Rally Championship returns to action this weekend with the Donnelly Group Circuit of Ireland Rally, in association with UTV Drive.

Tim McNulty heads the series standings after his victory at round one in Galway, but he is set to miss this Easter's event. McNulty has instead decided to focus his attention on round three in Killarney.

"I need to get an engine rebuild after my next event," McNulty said. "So if I entered the Circuit of Ireland, I'd have to miss Killarney. I'd love to do both events but it's just not possible this year."

With McNulty out of the running, it gives the chasing pack an opportunity to play catch-up. Second placed Alan Ring, who also leads the Group N category, is well positioned to move to the top of the order in his Mitsubishi. So too is Kevin Barrett, who will have an Impreza WRC at his disposal.

However, it is another Impreza WRC pilot who tops the order, as Glengormley's Derek McGarrity returns to the series with WRC power. He opted to use a Group N Evo at the opening round of this year's Tarmac series, but has upgraded his mount in a bid to secure another victory at the Circuit of Ireland.

McGarrity will start the event first on the road, heading crews over the start ramp at Armagh City Hotel. The County Antrim man will also be aiming to be first over the finish ramp this Sunday afternoon.

A healthy entry has been received for the Modified and Historic competitors, ensuring there will be plenty of competition throughout the field.

The action gets underway this Saturday afternoon, with competitors facing 10 stages, including two runs through the Lisburn 'Power Stage'. After the overnight halt, another six stages are on the agenda for Sunday, with the winner due to be crowned at the Armagh finish late on Sunday afternoon.

Entry List for Circuit of Ireland Revealed

Posted: April 14, 2011 7:25 PM

More than 100 competitors from towns and villages across Ireland and beyond will battle it out for this year’s Donnelly Group Circuit of Ireland Rally.

The Rally will begin in Armagh at noon on Easter Saturday 23 April before competitors undertake 16 stages across five counties.

With a carnival atmosphere and family fun events across the weekend in Armagh this year’s Circuit promises to be bigger and better than ever!

One of many highlights is the Lisburn Power Stage which takes place at 18:00 on Easter Saturday when the city’s streets will close for the spectator event which will be broadcast live on UTV Drive.co.uk to fans across the globe.

Rally Director, Bobby Willis is delighted with the entry field:
“The excitement continues to build and our decision to combine the International and National classes in the current economic climate has been justified with the entries continuing to flood in.

“The lure of driving before huge crowds at the Lisburn Power Stage seems to be the big pull for many drivers with extensive TV advertising guaranteeing big crowds for Armagh.

“We have a very strong field with Derek McGarrity defending his crown but other favourites such as Steve Perez in the Lancia Stratos sure to thrill the crowds.

“This year’s Rally will be un-missable for petrol-heads and families alike!” Programmes for this year’s Rally with maps and timings are now on sale from the event website:

List of Unseeded Entries

Posted: April 14, 2011 4:33 PM

CIRCUIT OF IRELAND NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL RALLIES AMALGAMATED

Posted: April 9, 2011 9:59 AM

Following much deliberation, the Organising Committee of the 2011 Donnelly Group Circuit of Ireland Rally, in association with UTV Drive, has decided to amalgamate the International and National status elements of this year's event into one National event.

This decision has been made in consultation with the MSA, MI, the Coordinators of the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship and Hankook MSA Northern Ireland Rally Championship.

This will provide more action for the spectators on Sunday afternoon. All competitors now have the option to compete on all 16 stages, rather than the National event finishing at lunch time, as originally planned.

Sunday’s route will run to the west and north of Armagh, finishing at the Armagh City Hotel at 1600.

WHY?

By running the event as a National Status Rally, the following advantages are to be gained:

    · All competitors are seeded together and the rally runs as one, with no gaps or fragmentation of competitors. This is a major plus for competitors, marshals and spectators, as well as falling in line with other rounds of the Tarmac Championship.

    · The entry fee for the full two days of the event (all 16 stages) has been reduced to £575.00 (± €680.00). All competitors who have already entered the International Section of the event will be offered a refund for the difference in entry fees which were published in the original regulations.

    · All competitors who originally entered the 1.5 day element of the event will now compete over all 16 stages, not 13 as stated in the original regulations, at the same price of £575.00 (± €680.00).

    · The option for competitors competing in the Hankook MSA Northern Ireland Championship to compete on Day One only (10 stages), with the entry fee of £385.00 (± €455.00) still stands.

    · As a National Status Event, all competitors who are registered for the Hankook MSA Northern Ireland Championship will be eligible for points in accordance with the event standings at the end of the Day One stages, irrespective of whether they are competing on Day One or the full rally.

    · Any competitor who has entered the Day One element of the Rally to date is free to upgrade their entry to compete on the full event pending the payment of the difference in entry fee, an additional £190 ( ± €235.00). Additional fees must be received by the Entries Secretary by 18th April

    · The 2WD Sunday Run element of the event will be run as planned and will be unaffected by the above changes.
The closing date for entries has been extended until Monday 18th April to allow competitors the opportunity to enter with the attractive package on offer.

The Organising Committee is grateful to all of the Competitors and Regulatory Bodies as mentioned above for their cooperation in respect of these changes, which have allowed the Circuit of Ireland to offer probably the best value for money tarmac rally in Ireland.

To date, more than 80 entries have been received for the Rally and we are very much looking forward to a fantastic event over the Easter weekend - an event we fully anticipate will be enjoyed by all participants and spectators alike.

Circuit of Ireland Recce Days

Posted: April 6, 2011 10:08 AM

We have been asked by a number of competitors, to extend the period of reconnaissance for the rally.

Regulations - Article 9.2 of the regulations will be amended by bulletin, in due course.

Competitors may make a low speed reconnaissance of all the special stages during one selected day from the three listed below.

    Between 09:00 hrs – 21:00 hrs Saturday 16th April
    Between 09:00 hrs – 21:00 hrs Sunday 17th April
    Between 09:00 hrs – 21:00 hrs Friday 22nd April
Registration for reconnaissance will be available from 08.00 – 10.30, on the morning prior to reconnaissance, at the Armagh City Hotel.

Parts of the Lisburn Power Stage may need to be reconnoitred on foot, due to various closed barriers. There is no restriction regarding the reconnaissance on this stage.

If competitors require the facility to sign on prior to reconnaissance, this may be possible to organise. We would ask interested parties to contact us via secretary@circuitofireland.net in this regard.

Rally fans urged to ‘Keep the Race in its Place’

Posted: March 27, 2011 6:17 PM

The Environment Minister has reminded rally fans of their responsibilities behind the wheel ahead of this year’s Donnelly Group Circuit of Ireland Rally in association with UTV Drive which takes place over the Easter weekend.

Tens of thousands of fans will attend stages in counties Armagh, Down, Antrim, Tyrone and Monaghan. Edwin Poots urged spectators attending the rally to adhere to the DOE’s Road Safety Message – Keep the Race in its Place.

Mr Poots warned:
“Young men, especially those with a keen interest in motorsport, will no doubt get a great thrill out of seeing the top rally drivers competing at high speeds.

“However we all need to be aware there is a big difference between driving on the rally and everyday driving on the road.

“High-speed rallying like the Circuit of Ireland takes place in a controlled environment in specially-designed cars driven by experienced competitors.

“Spectators and rally fans should be under no illusion that speed on our roads kills and wrecks lives.”

Rally Director Bobby Willis said organisers had given their full backing to the Keep the Race in its Place campaign.

He said:
“Rallying is great fun and we are looking forward to thousands of people enjoying the exhilarating sport this Easter weekend.

“We know fans enjoy the speed, skill and excitement but we strongly urge spectators to leave it to the professionals.

“I would also urge fans to obey the marshals during the rally as they do a vital job in keeping everyone safe.”

Thousands of fans are expected to descend on Armagh to meet and greet the competitors in this year’s Donnelly Group Circuit of Ireland Rally at 11am on Easter Saturday, 23 April, before they set off on 16 stages.

This year the service park will be situated in the Armagh City Hotel car park and on Saturday afternoon drivers will compete in the Lisburn Power Stage – the first time a city centre in the UK will be closed for a competitive rally stage. This will enable the public the best possible viewing whilst remaining safe. UTV Drive will also stream the Power Stage live on its website.

Stages in Monaghan will take place on Sunday with the rally finishing in Armagh later that day.

While adding his voice to the safety message, Terence Donnelly, Managing Director of the lead sponsor the Donnelly Motor Group highlighted that his company will showcase its range of electric cars at this year’s Lisburn Power Stage and at the start/finish in Armagh.

PEREZ KICKS LANCIA STRATOS BACK INTO CIRCUIT

Posted: March 27, 2011 6:10 PM

The Lancia Stratos, one of the most iconic rallying cars of all time, is the first entry in this year’s Donnelly Group Circuit of Ireland Rally in association with UTV Drive.

Reigning BTRDA Rally Champion Steve Perez has confirmed he will be driving his distinctive dark blue Lancia Stratos in the National class as the Circuit celebrates its 80th anniversary.

The Lancia Stratos won the World Rally Championship in 1974, 1975 and again in 1976.

Considered to be one of the most stunning rally cars in the world, the Stratos first came to the Circuit of Ireland Rally in 1975 driven by Cathal Curley. In the 1976 Circuit, Per-Inge Walfriddson drove the car to 4th overall, whilst in 1977 rally, the Stratos came second in the hands of Billy Coleman.

Excited to be taking part in the Circuit former MSA British Historic Rally Champion Steve Perez said:
“I take part in rallies all over the world with my Kick Energy rally team, but few rallies can offer the historical significance and importance that the Circuit of Ireland can.

“I hope Rally fans in Ireland and overseas will be as excited about this year’s Circuit as I am!”

Rally Director, Bobby Willis said:
“The Lancia Stratos is one of the most exotic cars ever to have taken part in the Circuit.

“I am thrilled we will be welcoming the Stratos and Steve Perez to the Circuit of Ireland; I wish him every success.

“I am confident this will be a Circuit to remember with the Lancia Stratos, as well as many other interesting entries, still to be announced, thrilling fans.”

The 2011 Donnelly Group Circuit of Ireland Rally in association with UTV Drive will take place over Easter Weekend – 23rd and 24th April. Competitors will undertake 16 stages across counties Down, Tyrone, Antrim, Armagh and Monaghan, starting and finishing the race in Armagh city centre.

LISBURN TO HOST CITY CENTRE RALLY SPECTACULAR

Posted: March 17, 2011 9:46 PM

Thousands of spectators are expected to pack the streets of Lisburn on Easter Saturday as the Donnelly Group Circuit of Ireland Rally in association with UTV Drive roars into the City Centre, with support from Lisburn City Council.

The Council is sponsoring the Lisburn “Power Stage” which will see competitors battle the clock on public roads as Lisburn becomes the first city in the UK to close its centre for a competitive rally stage.

In a double for Lisburn City, UTV Drive will stream the Lisburn Power Stage live on the Internet, bringing the adrenaline fuelled excitement of the Circuit and images of Lisburn to motorsport fans across the globe.

Starting on the Queen’s Road in Lisburn, competitors will race through a 1km stage finishing at Lagan Valley Island, which houses the Council offices, in a rallying spectacular that will present incredible public viewing.

Speaking at the Lisburn launch, The Right Worshipful the Mayor of Lisburn, Alderman Paul Porter said:
“I’m delighted that in its 80th year the Circuit of Ireland Rally will be calling at our great city and that the Lisburn Power Stage is a first for rallying. Easter Saturday in Lisburn is not to be missed and we expect thousands of families to enjoy the sights and sounds of the Rally.

“The legendary status of the Rally is one of the reasons why the Council is keen to support this event and bring it to the City of Lisburn and I expect this long standing annual event to be a success during its visit to Lisburn on Easter Saturday.”

Councillor Jenny Palmer, Chairman of the Council’s Economic Development Committee, also present at the launch, said:
“The economic benefits of hosting such a high profile sporting event cannot be under estimated and the Council is delighted to be involved in such an event. The Council firmly believes that an event of this nature will attract thousands of visitors to the City Centre which will in turn generate significant income for the local economy particularly it is hoped for our retail and hospitality sectors. I would urge City Centre businesses to take full advantage of this opportunity being offered on Easter Saturday.

“The Donnelly Group Circuit of Ireland Rally in association with UTV Drive is the largest cross-border sporting event in Ireland and attracts a large and loyal family following and the Council looks forward to welcoming these individuals to Lisburn City.

“The Lisburn Power Stage will begin at 18:00 on Easter Saturday and the event will be advertised extensively on TV and radio with U105 broadcasting live from Lisburn on the day. To accompany this event the Council in partnership with Lisburn City Centre Management has also arranged other activities for families in Lisburn throughout the day on Easter Saturday such as a Ramprage BMX display, live music and family amusements in Castle Gardens.”

Jeremy Biggerstaff, Managing Director of UTV New Media said:
“At the launch we promised we would keep the local motoring public up-to-date with all the action and you can’t get any better than live pictures!

“While I am certain motorsport fans will not want to miss the action in Lisburn, those who are not in the country can keep up with the drama on UTV Drive.”

The Lisburn Power Stage represents one of 16 stages in this year’s rally which starts at midday at the Armagh City Hotel before competitors travel across counties Armagh, Down, Antrim, Tyrone and Monaghan before finishing in Armagh on Easter Sunday.

Lead sponsor the Donnelly Motor Group will showcase its range of electric cars at this year’s Lisburn Power Stage and at the start/finish in Armagh, as Managing Director Terence Donnelly explained.

“This year’s Circuit of Ireland Rally has a very futuristic feel. With online streaming and city centre stages it’s only natural that the Donnelly Group lets the public see the future of motoring in Northern Ireland.

“We have a range of electric cars available from manufacturers including Mitsubishi Peugeot and Citroen and are really looking forward to showing off what the Electric Vehicles are capable of.”

Circuit of Ireland Rally Director Bobby Willis managed the World Rally Championship Super Special Stage at Stormont in 2007. He believes the Lisburn Power Stage is the future of Rallying.

“When I took over the day-to-day running of the Circuit last year I said that I wanted to bring Rallying back to the people and that’s exactly what the Lisburn Power Stage will do.

“Rally fans and families alike will be able to greet the drivers before the stage and the many viewing points will excite spectators and bring them closer yet safer to the action than ever before.”

For the latest information on the rally with details on the 16 stages go to

Regulations Available

Posted: March 17, 2011 9:44 PM

Regulations available from the Rally Website:

REDUCED ENTRY FEE FOR 2011 CIRCUIT OF IRELAND RALLY

Posted: March 10, 2011 3:23 PM

Organisers of the 2011 Donnelly Group Circuit of Ireland Rally in association with UTV Drive have announced a new pricing structure which will appeal to all budgets and competitors.

Rally organisers hope this very competitive pricing arrangement will attract more drivers than ever to compete this Easter weekend as the rally celebrates its 80th year.

Event Director, Bobby Willis said:
“We are conscious that Rallying has not been immune to the current economic conditions and we want to offer all competitors an opportunity to participate in one of the oldest and most famous rallies in the world.

“For 2011 we have frozen our prices for the Circuit of Ireland International Rally, and reduced the entry fee on the Circuit of Ireland National & Historic Rally. The entry fee also includes competition car insurance.

“Recent years have seen a growing International interest in the event and I believe these packages are guaranteed to appeal to top International drivers as well as our local rally heroes.”

The 2011 Donnelly Group Circuit of Ireland Rally in association with UTV Drive will take place over the traditional Easter Weekend (23 and 24 April) beginning and ending in Armagh with 16 stages across Counties Armagh, Down, Antrim and Monaghan. Details surrounding the city of Lisburn will be released in the coming weeks.

Prices for each Rally are listed below;

CIRCUIT OF IRELAND INTERNATIONAL RALLY

    * 2 days of closed public road rallying
    * Reduced accommodation requirements for crew and support crew due to timetable of event (eg: scrutiny on Saturday morning followed by start Saturday lunchtime)
    * Compact route
    * Entry fee of £750 (± €885) includes insurance for competing car
    * Super rally rules apply
    * HANS required
CIRCUIT OF IRELAND NATIONAL RALLY (NIRC)
    * A qualifying round of the Hankook Northern Ireland Stage Rally Championship
    * Single day (Saturday) of closed public road rallying
    * No accommodation required for crew and support crew due to timetable of event (eg: scrutiny on Sat morning followed by start Saturday lunchtime & finish Saturday night)
    * Compact route
    * Entry fee of £380 (± €450) includes insurance for competing car
    * No HANS required
CIRCUIT OF IRELAND NATIONAL & HISTORIC RALLY (TROA)
    * Leg 1 (Saturday) is a qualifying round of the Hankook Northern Ireland Rally Championship
    * One and a half days of closed public road rallying
    * Reduced accommodation requirements for crew and support crew due to timetable of event (eg: scrutiny on Saturday morning followed by start Saturday lunchtime)
    * Compact route
    * Entry fee of £575 (± €680) includes insurance for competing car
    * Class structure designed to facilitate all vehicle types
    * Historic categories included
    * HANS required for leg 2 on the Sunday
CIRCUIT SUNDAY RUN 2WD CHALLENGE
    * Single day of closed public road rallying
    * No accommodation required for crew due to timetable of event
    * No service crew required due to timetable of event therefore reducing costs (eg: scrutiny on Sunday morning followed by start Sunday lunchtime)
    * Compact route
    * Entry fee of £195 (± €230) includes insurance for competing car
    * HANS required

80-YEAR-OLD CIRCUIT OF IRELAND RALLY GETTING BIGGER AND BETTER SAYS RALLY BOSS

Posted: March 1, 2011 11:18 AM


Keep The Race In Its Place: Janine Hall and Kellie Martin of Drumglass High School
help launch the DoE Keep The Race In Its Place Safety Message ahead of this year’s
Donnelly Group Circuit of Ireland Rally in association UTV Drive.
Also pictured at the launch:
Rally Director Bobby Willis, Raymond Donnelly of the Donnelly Motor Group and DoE Minister Edwin Poots.


The 2011 Donnelly Group Circuit of Ireland Rally in association with UTV Drive was launched in spectacular fashion today. Ireland and Lions winger Tommy Bowe, reigning Circuit champion Derek McGarrity and Irish Tarmac series winner Gareth MacHale showed their support for one of the most famous rallies in the world.

This year’s Rally will take place over the Easter Weekend and will see the excitement begin in Armagh City Centre, the ancient capital of Ulster, on Saturday 23rd April. Competitors will undertake 16 stages across the Orchard County, Down, Antrim and Monaghan before returning to Armagh for the finish on Easter Sunday afternoon (24th April).

Thousands of rally fans are expected to descend upon Armagh where the Rally will be headquartered and where the Service Park will be located at the Armagh City Hotel.

Lisburn City will also play a major role in the 2011 event however organisers are remaining tight-lipped for the moment with precise details to be announced in the coming weeks.

The 2011 Circuit of Ireland Rally is structured to accommodate all competitors whether it be for the full international, the TROA Modified & historic element, the NI Championship one day event, or the 2WD Sunday Run. Competitor entry fees have also been restructured to suit all budgets.

Rally Director Bobby Willis is confident this lowered entry fee will appeal to drivers from Ireland as well as from further afield.

Speaking at the official launch at UTV Studio One in Belfast, he said:
“The Circuit of Ireland Rally is one of the oldest rallies in the world and we are hoping our reduced entry fee, and the increased promotion of the event, will attract more international drivers to take part in this prestigious event.

“The event first took place in 1931 and I am thrilled to say that 80 years on The Circuit of Ireland Rally continues to draw thousands of spectators.

“We are very grateful to have secured the incredible sponsorship of The Donnelly Group and with support from UTV Drive, Lisburn and Armagh councils I believe this year’s event will be the best yet!

“Last year’s event generated over £1.5 million for the local economy with more than 30,000 spectators enjoying the thrills of Ireland’s largest cross-border sporting event.

“The 2011 Donnelly Group Circuit of Ireland Rally in association with UTV Drive is not only the perfect way for families to spend the Easter Weekend, but an opportunity to attract out-of-state visitors to our beautiful country.

“Again I want to thank the Rally volunteers and local residents, without their support the Rally could not operate.”

Terence Donnelly, Managing Director of the Donnelly Motor Group which has six sites throughout Northern Ireland said:
“I, like so many of our customers have followed and enjoyed the Circuit of Ireland Rally. I competed and won my class in the Irish Rally Championships in a Mini Cooper.

“I share Bobby’s passion for rallying and his belief that we can awaken the sleeping giant that is the Circuit of Ireland Rally.”

“I am delighted that through the Donnelly Group sponsorship we are able to support such an important event. I look forward to developing this partnership in the coming months culminating in an amazing Easter event.”

David Dornan, General Manager of UTV Drive said:
“The Circuit of Ireland Rally has legendary status and a large and loyal following both locally and internationally.

"We believe that the Circuit of Ireland Rally and UTV Drive make a perfect partnership and the event reinforces our commitment to the local motoring community.

“This is the second year that we’ve partnered the Rally and will keep customers and Rally fans up-to-date with all the action as it happens at www.UTVDrive.co.uk”

The Mayor of Armagh City and District Council, Councillor Jim Speers said:
“This is the first chance for Rally fans to see the cars and drivers up close in Armagh. We invite everyone along to feel the excitement as they leave the start ramp, and when the heroes return on Easter Sunday.

"Families looking for a great day out will also enjoy the wealth of quality attractions in the City along with celebrations and family fun in the Market Square on Saturday 23rd April to give the Rally a real buzz.”

Councillor Jenny Palmer, Chairman of Lisburn City Council’s Economic Development Committee remained tight lipped about Lisburn’s involvement.
“What we’ve got planned for Lisburn as part of the Circuit of Ireland Rally will amaze Rally fans and also herald a first for Rallying in Northern Ireland.

“We are finalising details with the relevant partner agencies and plan to make an announcement in the coming weeks which will bring thousands of Rally fans to Lisburn.”

For the latest information on the rally with details on the 16 stages go to

Event /Club Websites

Posted: January 2, 1990 3:01 PM

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