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International Circuit Challenge (Ballymena) - NOT GOING AHEAD

Posted: March 11, 2017 2:55 PM - 3374 Hits

International Circuit Challenge (Ballymena) - 7-8 Apr 17 (Replacement for Circuit of Ireland)

International Circuit Challenge Not Going Ahead

Posted: March 11, 2017 1:29 PM

The International Circuit Challenge will not take place on 7th and 8th April, due to funding and timing difficulties.

Other elements including the Stem@The Circuit and ?Dare to be Different? events will continue as planned and will be based in the Ballymena Showgrounds.

Event Director Bobby Willis said
"We are obviously very disappointed that despite support from Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, we are not able to continue with the rally element of the Circuit Festival.

However, we are working with the Council and Sentinus to make sure that the STEM@The Circuit is a great success. We believe that the connection between motorsport and STEM activity is an ideal way to inspire children in their future careers and we aim to further develop this innovative element of our programme.

We are now focusing our efforts on attracting the European Rally Championship back to Mid and East Antrim in 2018 and would like to send a big thank you to everyone from the rally community for their continued unwavering support".


Posted: February 3, 2017 7:08 AM

The team behind the world famous Circuit of Ireland Rally is staging a totally new event this year, the Circuit Festival 2017, supported by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council. Running from the 4th to 8th April and based in Ballymena Showgrounds, the event will include the International Circuit Challenge, launched in January at the Motor Racing Show in Birmingham's NEC, plus an innovative addition with a STEM theme, called STEM@TheCircuit.

Mid and East Antrim Mayor, Councillor Audrey Wales MBE is looking forward to welcoming the new Circuit Festival to her home town of Ballymena: "We're delighted to be working with the International Circuit Challenge team on another exciting rallying event and also to once again be showcasing the Mid and East Antrim borough on a global stage.

"Both the International Circuit Challenge and the associated STEM@TheCircuit will find a welcome home in Mid and East Antrim's Ballymena Showgrounds, strategically located as one of Northern Ireland's premier sporting and leisure complexes.

"As a Council, we are committed to growing the local economy, not only by attracting overnight visitors to the area through our support for major festivals and events, but also by encouraging the development of business innovation and technology. With Catalyst Inc, formerly the NI Science Park, right on our doorstep at Ecos, we've included our support for the STEM project within the Circuit Festival this year. We hope that by promoting the vital Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths subjects as positive career choices for young people, we will encourage the growth and development of an entrepreneurial culture both locally and throughout Northern Ireland.

"We're very excited about the new Circuit Festival and I hope everyone will join us in April as we don our overalls for some rally festival fun."

STEM@TheCircuit, a unique new event aimed at young people, joins the International Circuit Challenge in a packed programme of activities promoting a festival atmosphere and adding to the excitement of the event.

Festival Director Bobby Willis, explains,
"Rallying has made a major contribution to engineering and technological development in car manufacturing and can provide an innovative platform for the promotion of STEM careers to young people. As part of the Circuit Festival, STEM@TheCircuit will offer experiential STEM opportunities for school children across Northern Ireland, inspiring them to follow education and careers in STEM subjects ? Science Technology Engineering and Maths. The students who attend will not only have the chance to meet and talk with industry professionals but also be able to get ?up close' to the international rally cars, drivers and teams participating in the International Circuit Challenge Rally."

STEM@TheCircuit will take place in a dedicated STEM marquee in the Ballymena Showgrounds and include the Showgrounds stadium building. Interactive displays and activities created by STEM companies, professional bodies, colleges and institutions will demonstrate STEM in action in Northern Ireland today.

Key partners for the event will be Sentinus, Northern Ireland's main STEM promoter and Catalyst Inc, who provide a home, networks and support for knowledge based companies and entrepreneurs.

Bill Connor, Chief Executive, Sentinus said,
"Sentinus works with young people of all ages, providing practical experience in the STEM subjects and the Circuit Festival is a perfect chance for them to see the application of science and engineering in the real world. As well as attending a science show and visiting interactive stands provided by local companies, they will be able to get hands on with some of the cars which will be starring in the Rally and see their own model cars being raced at speeds of 60 kilometres per hour. This is a wonderful opportunity for pupils to taste the excitement of science and engineering and find out more about potential careers in the sector."

Joanne Stuart OBE, Director of Development at Catalyst Inc added, "We are delighted to be supporting STEM@TheCircuit which will provide opportunities for young people to get engaged with STEM particularly in the context of the Automotive sector. There are many career opportunities within the STEM industries in Northern Ireland and the Festival will provide an opportunity to meet with innovative businesses who are working in exciting areas and see how STEM is being applied to create products and services that are solving problems across the globe."

An extensive programme for young people has been created during Circuit Festival 2017 including:

    Celebration day for Sentinus Team R&D projects (4th April)
    F1 in Schools ? Northern Ireland final (6th & 7th April)
    Demonstration/science/engineering shows for young students aged 10-17 years
    Fun and interactive displays and activities by Northern Ireland STEM businesses and institutions (6th & 7th April)
    Pitstop Challenge/Wheel Change Competition with fantastic Motorsport prizes (every day) Opportunities for young people and families to get ?up close' to rally cars and teams (6th & 7th April)
    A celebration of local business technological innovation
STEM@TheCircuit will complement the International Circuit Challenge which will take place on 7th and 8th April. This new event will feature 30 invited drivers in internationally recognised R5 cars tackling eight competitive elements across the Mid and East Antrim areas.


Posted: January 12, 2017 3:47 PM

The International Circuit Challenge, a new event to take place in Northern Ireland in April 2017, has been announced today (12th January) at the Autosport International Motor Racing Show in Birmingham. Event Director Bobby Willis gave details of the plans speaking from the British Rally Championship stand in the NEC.

Based in Ballymena and taking place over two days, April 7 and 8, the Circuit Challenge will feature 30 invited drivers in internationally recognised R5 cars. They will tackle eight stages in the Mid and East Antrim areas with the whole event being streamed globally on the internet.

Willis, the man who built the Circuit of Ireland into a top European event, reluctantly had to withdraw the rally from the 2017 European Rally Championship series when guarantees of funding could not be secured before the championship deadline. But rather than allow the momentum built up over the past eight years to diminish, Willis has stepped in with an innovative event to bridge the gap until the Circuit of Ireland can return in 2018. "It is regrettable that due to circumstances beyond our control we could not run a European Championship Circuit of Ireland this year however the intention is to be back in 2018," said Willis. It is important to keep the team together; to maintain the momentum and it's always good to try something new. It was also imperative for us to retain the road closing order which enables the Circuit to take place.

"The International Circuit Challenge will consist of two separate stages. Stage one will be tackled twice in the morning and twice again in the afternoon but in the reverse direction. The format will be the same for day two using a different stage, making a total of eight stages and some 80 miles of competitive driving.

"It promises to be a spectacular event and I've already had positive feedback from a number of our leading drivers including the likes of Marty McCormack, Desi Henry, Joe McGonigle and Jonny Greer who all figured strongly on last year's Circuit of Ireland. The five-time winner of the Circuit, Derek McGarrity, is also looking forward to the competition.

"In addition, reaction from the British Rally Championship teams has been equally encouraging with Martin Wilkinson of the CA1 Sport team, which ran both the Swedish star Fredrik Ahlin and the former British Champion, David Bogie in the BRC last season, enthusiastically confirming both his star drivers will be entering. With drivers from England, Scotland, the Republic of Ireland and Wales all showing a keen interest I think we can expect a very competitive international field. Having the British Rally Championship within our entry list in 2016, was a major bonus for the event and we are looking forward to welcoming their drivers back, for this ?head to head' competition in 2017."

The rally will be based at Ballymena Showgrounds and the live TV streaming coverage will be hosted by former World production championship-winning co-driver Trevor Agnew who guided the ground-breaking internet coverage of last year's Circuit of Ireland. It was watched in 130 countries from Australia to Azerbaijan, from Brazil to Bahrain, and viewed for just short of an incredible TWO MILLION minutes ? that's more than 33,000 hours.

"Our camera crews have already been out recceing the stages with a view to providing the best possible coverage of the action," said Willis. "We will also be using drones and in-car cameras as well as end-of-stage interviews with the drivers. "But all of this is just part of a bigger picture for the International Circuit Challenge and we will be revealing details shortly of the other innovations we have planned for the rally weekend," he added.

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council's Chief Executive, Anne Donaghy, said she is delighted to work with the International Circuit Challenge event organisers on what will be a new, innovative and exciting rallying event. Anne said it will not only be a spectacular rally but will be a showcase for Mid and East Antrim area on a global stage. Mid and East Antrim Borough Mayor, Councillor Audrey Wales MBE, said: "The International Circuit Challenge will find a welcome home in Ballymena Showgrounds, which is one of NI's premier sporting and leisure complexes.

"I am delighted that an international audience from 130 countries ? such as watched live streaming of the event in 2016 - will get the opportunity to see our Borough and some of the many great people that live and work here. I am excited about this new festival delivered in partnership with the International Circuit Challenge and Mid and East Antrim Borough Council."

Topics: Circuit Of Ireland 

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