Circuit of Ireland Rally (J) - 2-4 Apr 15

Posted: June 6, 2015 7:14 AM - 9573 Hits

Round 3 - 2015 European Rally Championship (ERC)
J - Counting Round ERC Junior Championship
Round 3 - 2015 Tarmac Rally Championship
Round 3 - 2015 Northern Ireland Rally Championship

In Car

Posted: June 6, 2015 7:14 AM

David Walsh & Martin Lynch (Ford Escort MkII) SS4

Rob Duggan & Ger Conway (Ford Fiesta R2) SS4

Robert Woodside & Allan Harryman (Porsche 911 RGT)

Circuit Of Highs & Lows For Wright

Posted: June 6, 2015 7:09 AM

Ford Fiesta R5 driver Stephen Wright suffered a mixed event on his first outing in the European Rally Championship since last June. Stephen, and co-driver Mikie Galvin's encouraging start on the first day of the Circuit of Ireland was tempered with a small excursion on the final day of the rally which forced the former Motorsport Ireland Young Rally Driver of the Year to retire.

Speaking after the event Stephen said;
'We were surprised with our times on the opening day. It took us some time to adjust to the control tire and we drove well within ourselves in tricky conditions but to by lying 6th overnight in such a competitive field on only our second proper rally in the R5 Fiesta was a great feeling.'

Early on day two though, Stephen and Mikie ran into difficulty.
'I dropped my concentration for a split second and got caught out on some loose gravel, running wide and clipping a tree - right in front of the Eurosport helicopter camera! The damage was not severe, but enough to put us out of the event. We were having a great battle for 5th place with Sam Moffett and Euan Thorburn so it was disappointing to miss out on a potentially great result. It was such a shame as the team put in a huge effort in the weeks running up to the event to ensure the car was at its best and it would have been nice to repay them with a result but we have to be pleased with our pace and hopefully it's a sign of better things to come.'

Next up for Stephen is his local event, the Monaghan Stages Rally, in just three weeks' time. Despite being his home rally, Stephen has only done it once in the last six years but it's still a rally he is really looking forward to. 'The event is likely to attract a top class entry but hopefully we can turn out a good result in front of the home crowd' said Stephen this week.

You can keep up to date with Stephen and Mikie over the season by following them on Twitter @StephenWr1ght and @GalvinMikie while more information on the Wright Rally Team by is available by visiting Stephen is competing this season with the support of the Killyhevlin Hotel and Health Club, Spanwright and Lafarge Tarmac.

Dramatic weekend for Tuthill Porsche on the 2015 Circuit of Ireland

Posted: June 6, 2015 7:06 AM

Tuthill Porsche achieved another milestone last weekend, when its 911 R-GT rally car became the first contemporary Porsche 911 to start the Circuit of Ireland Rally in almost thirty years.

Driver Robert Woodside and co-driver Allan Harryman delighted thousands of rally fans with the Porsche 911 from the start of day one, completing the stages in style before losing drive on the start line for the Newtonards special stage. After removing the transmission, the hard-working Tuthill mechanics found one defective clutch plate. The complete clutch pack was changed, ready for the car to restart on day two. The team also fitted revised front and rear dampers, which were more to the driver pair's liking.

'Newtonards was a huge disappointment, but the team did an excellent job to get us back out on day two,' said Robert Woodside. 'After some changes to the setup overnight, the car felt much better and got quicker with every mile covered. This whole week has been a memorable experience: many thanks to all of the fans who came out to support us and to Richard and his team for bringing the car and working so hard. Hopefully this will not be the last time we see it in Ireland: watch this space!'

'I spent just spent a day rallying at home with my best friend in a proper rally-prepared Porsche, and the sun was shining. You can't get any better than that,' said a delighted Allan Harryman. 'We also get to keep the car for a few more days, on display with our sponsors at Rushmere Shopping Centre. I'm hoping the team will forget it's still here!'

'Our Porsche 911 is in a class of its own on the Circuit," noted team boss, Richard Tuthill. "The real victory lies in overwhelming support for Robert, Allan and the R-GT Porsche.

'The feedback from the entire rally community in person and via social media channels has been exceptional. I was still getting emails from fans after midnight: one said he had not seen such excitement since Colin McRae brought his Metro 6R4 to the Donegal Rally. So many people put everything into this rally and that is what makes it so special: huge thanks to all of them.'

The next scheduled outing for the Tuthill R-GT car is Ypres Rally in June for the WRC R-GT Cup. The team will continue its preparations for this year's Safari Rally, as well as building many historic road, race and rally Porsche 911s through 2015. Follow Tuthill Porsche progress on the website at

A Historic Achievement for Stanley Orr on the Circuit of Ireland!

Posted: June 6, 2015 6:52 AM

Finishing a tremendous eleventh overall and first in the Historic's on the Circuit of Ireland National Rally was only telling part of the story for Killinchy's Stanley Orr and co-driver Stephen McAuley. In their MK Transport supported MK1 Escort Pinto, they lay an amazing fifth overall after the first three stages, leaving many WRC, Group N, and more powerful modified machines trailing behind. Indeed they were opening a few eyes with their times in the Specsavers supported car! Only when conditions dried up did the more powerful machines swallow up the little MK1. Indeed it was all reminiscent of the old classic Circuit of Ireland back in 1983, when a youthful Orr finished ninth overall in an under-powered Group A Escort RS2000. Back then one of the works teams were so dismayed that they insisted that his engine was stripped after the event, but of course the car was found to be perfectly correct.

'We have a good start this year' explained Stanley 'but nothing exceptional. We weren't expecting to be in that position at all. Everything was working well though, Stephen on the pace-notes and the new Hoosier tyres, which I could brake very late on.' They dropped to seventh after stage four, due to a timing error, penalising them fourteen seconds, which the organisers later corrected, and indeed seventh was the over-night position of the Carryduff Auto Parts/ Aziz Turkish Barber MK1 Escort.

'Saturday started well for us on the first loop, but I think in hindsight I picked too soft a tyre all day, and we dropped time. There was nothing much we could do, and on the last loop of stages I backed off to get to the finish. That's when I made a mistake also, spinning on the penultimate stage, and that probably cost us a top ten position. It was a fabulous event though and I enjoyed it so much!'

For mechanic Stanley however he was lucky to even make the start as just three weeks before he had a sick car and a sick wife! 'If it wasn't for the boys- Cleet, Finn, Colin and Stephen I wouldn't have started. The engine was a little sick at Bishopscourt, and needed to be sent back to England immediately to be back in time. Just after Bishopscourt however my wife Carol tripped on her shoe in the garage and hit her head off the lamp bracket on the Escort, severely damaging her skull. I had no interest in doing the rally at all then, but the boys took the engine out themselves and sent it away and Carol has since made a great recovery. It's really thanks to their support and that of our sponsors that we even made the start ramp.'

After finishing third overall in the British Historic Rally Championship last season, this year is a more relaxed one for the County Down driver, and he is unsure of what's next, citing the Manx and Ulster rallies as events he wants to tackle, but a trip to Killarney or Donegal hasn't been ruled out. One thing is for sure, that this team of dedicated enthusiasts had as much fun as anyone else on the Easter classic, and on a tight budget.

Peugeot Rally Academy - Craig Breen and the 208 T16: two good reasons to be satisfied!

Posted: June 6, 2015 6:50 AM

The Peugeot Rally Academy produced another top performance on the Circuit of Ireland Rally where Craig Breen and the 208 T16 rounded off a solid display with top prize on home soil which takes them into the championship lead! There were solid runs from the other Peugeot Rally Academy drivers, too, since ERC debutant, Charles Martin (208 T16) was rewarded for a carefully-paced run with fifth place. Last but not least, Diogo Gago (208R2) achieved the goal he was set by coming fourth in the Junior order.

Craig Breen and Scott Martin claimed nine fastest times from 18 to provide further evidence of the 208 T16's speed, although it was no stroll in the park for the Peugeot Rally Academy pair. Intent on winning his home round of the FIA ERC, Craig hit the ground running to appear in the lead after SS2, and none of his rivals could prevent the Irishman from completing Friday's action on top. Saturday's scenario proved different, however, when Craig dropped time and saw the lead switch to compatriot Robert Barrable. But the Peugeot crew rapidly re-assessed the situation and successfully clawed back their eight-second deficit thanks to two consecutive stage wins.

With three stages remaining Barrable recovered the lead again, but Craig and Scott maintained constant pressure on their opponent who ended up making a mistake.

In theory, that left the path clear for the N'1 208 T16 to cruise to the Belfast finish without taking any further risks, but there was more drama to come when Craig span on the penultimate test, allowing second-placed Kajetan Kajetanowicz to close to within five seconds with one stage remaining. The Peugeot driver kept a cool head to improve by eight seconds over the decisive last 14km of 'Gregorlough' compared with his first attempt. At last, he was free to savour the victory he has dreamed of for many years!

'This is one of the best days of my life, ' he admitted at the finish. 'So many top Irish and foreign drivers have won this event over the years and now my name joins theirs on the list! At the start of my career, winning the Circuit of Ireland was one of my big aims. It's also our second victory in a row and we've taken the lead in the championship. Perfect. I'm so proud of the work we have accomplished with the Peugeot Rally Academy and the 208 T16.'

The 2014 208 Rally Cup winners Charles Martin and Thierry Salva kicked off their 2015 ERC campaign this weekend. After a cautious start, they picked up pace and were soon posting top-five times despite this being their first visit to the Circuit of Ireland and only their second outing in a four-wheel drive car. By the middle of Day 2, Charles was in the swing and succeeded in scoring two top-three times at a moment when the scrap between Craig Breen, Robert Barrable and Kajetan Kajetanowicz was at its fiercest! The French youngster was particularly upbeat after completing the rally in fifth spot: 'I took things cautiously. I will need to simplify my pace note system but I'm beginning to get a good feel for the handling of the 208 T16 and I don't think it will be long before I can start making more of its potential. It was a very complex rally with only two passes during recce which was new for me, so I'm pleased with my result.'

The other Peugeot Rally Academy crew in action was Diogo Gago and Jorge Carvalho who faced a tough weekend in Ireland in their 208 R2 because of the high level of the Junior entry. Yet the Portuguese pair stuck studiously to the game plan, which was to learn and get as many kilometres under their belt as possible. They ended up fourth in their category: 'It was very hard for me because I wasn't really in my element on the fast, unique stages. My confidence in the car increased as the conditions dried, however, and I managed to post some decent times. This experience will come in useful for later and I'm very happy with our position.'

The Peugeot Rally Academy will now turn its attention to the SATA Rallye A'ores in Portugal on June 4-6 which will be the first gravel round of the 2015 FIA ERC.

Sam Moffett leads the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship after three rounds

Posted: June 6, 2015 6:49 AM

Following the Circuit of Ireland Rally this past weekend, Sam Moffett provisionally leads the Clonakilty Blackpudding Irish Tarmac Rally Championship after three rounds on 40 points. Sam's fourth place finish on the International section of the rally was enough to move him ahead of Donagh Kelly who didn?t start the event and who remains on 32 points. Josh Moffetts third overall was enough to give him maximum points and move him into third in the championship on 31 points. There was disappointment for Jonny Greer who was forced to retire just before the finish which would have given him a strong fourth in the championship.

The Group N battle is still hotly contested as Brendan Cumiskey reversed previous results by edging out Aaron McHale with the latter's lead in the category cut to just two points. Tommy Doyle had an excellent first international result in his Skoda Fabia while Rob Duggan once again showed his enormous potential by coming home a tremendous fourth overall in the national section of the rally in his Ford Fiesta. The event was yet another disappointment for the 2014 Tarmac Champions, Declan & Brian Boyle as their troubled season continued with a blown engine on stage 10.

Frank Kelly took maximum points in the Modified Championship which lifts him into joint third in the series alongside, Ross Hunter. Declan Gallagher & Mark Nagle are still the leading duo despite not competing on the Circuit. The Historic Championship saw Gareth Lloyd extend his lead as closest rivals Denis Moynihan (non started) and Ernie Graham (retired), failed to score. Stanley Orr made his first championship appearance and took and impressive maximum points, while Andy Johnson also got his first points of the season by finishing second in the category.

Breen's Dream A Reality After Titanic Battle

Posted: June 6, 2015 6:46 AM

Waterford driver Craig Breen finally realised his dream of winning the Circuit of Ireland Rally last weekend. Peugeot driver Breen and co-driver Scott Martin triumphed by just 6.8 seconds after 18 gruelling stages but there was last gasp drama as Breen hit difficulty in the final stages.

Breen had been involved in a fantastic battle with Dublin driver Robert Barrable which saw the pair trading seconds all weekend until Barrable, who held a slender 1.1 second advantage, slipped off the road and out of the rally while trying to defend his lead. With Barrable gone Breen found himself with a 19.8 second lead from Polish driver Kajetan Kajetanowicz with 2 stages remaining but on the penultimate stage Breen suffered a dramatic high speed spin. The car suffered only superficial damage but Breen dropped 14.8 seconds to Kajetanowicz leaving only 5 seconds between the pair heading into the final 14.8 km test.

Breen overshot and stalled in that final stage but managed to compose himself to set fastest time and win the Discover Ireland Circuit of Ireland Rally by 6.4 seconds. At the stage end Breen told reporters;
'I'm speechless' I have nothing left in my body. I've put everything I've got into this weekend. My team have rallied around me from the very beginning and we've done it. I've wanted to win this rally since my childhood hero Frank Meagher won it in 1992 and I really can't believe I'm here now. This means more to me than anything else in the world.'

Breen's win places him at the top of the European Rally Championship standings and capped off a fantastic event for Irish drivers with Monaghan brother's Josh and Sam Moffett finishing 4th and 5th in their Ford Fiesta's. The Longford-Cork pairing of Tommy Doyle and Eamon Hayes also finished in the top 10 bringing their Skoda Fabia home in 7th.


Posted: June 6, 2015 6:23 AM

1 Craig Breen/Scott Martin (Peugeot 208 T16 R5) 2h 04m 045s
2 Kajetan Kajetanowicz/Jaroslaw Baran (Ford Fiesta R5) 2h 04m 109s
3 Josh Moffett/John Rowan (Ford Fiesta RRC) 2h 05m 468s
4 Sam Moffett/Karl Atkinson (Ford Fiesta RRC) 2h 06m 286s
5 Charles Martin/Thierry Salva (Peugeot 208 T16 R5) 2h 06m 457s
6 Jonny Greer/Kirsty Riddick (Citroen DS3 R5) 2h 08m 362s
7 Alexey Lukyanuk/Evgen Chervonenko (Ford Fiesta R5) 2h 08m 406s
8 Tommy Doyle/Eamon Hayes (Skoda Fabia S2000) 2h 09m 28s
9 Jaromir Tarabus/Daniel Trunkat (Skoda Fabia S2000) 2h 11m 342s
10 Emil Bergkvist/Joakim Sjoberg (Opel Adam R2) 2h 12m 12.8s.

1 Derek McGarrity/James McKee (Subaru Impreza WRC) 2h 02m 182s
2 Kenny McKinstry/Noel Orr (Subaru Impreza WRC) 2h 04m 452s
3 Wesley Patterson/Johnny Baird (Ford Escort) 2h 07m 338s
4 Rob Duggan/Gerard Conway (Ford Fiesta R2) 2h 09m 117s
5 Keith White/Damian McCann (Ford Escort) 2h 09m 19s
6 Frank Kelly/Sean Hayde (Ford Escort) 2h 09m 56.3s.

1 Stanley Orr/Stephen McAuley (Ford Escort) 2h 12m 151s
2 Andy Johnson/Jim McSherry (Vauxhall Chevette) 2h 17m 14s
3 Gareth Lloyd/Gwynfor Jones (Ford Escort) 2h 20m 49.2s.

Leader After:
SS1 Robert Barrable / Damien Connolly (Ford Fiesta R5)
SS2-14 Craig Breen/Scott Martin (Peugeot 208 T16 R5)
SS9-15 Robert Barrable / Damien Connolly (Ford Fiesta R5)
SS16-18 Craig Breen/Scott Martin (Peugeot 208 T16 R5)

Stage Winners
SS1 Robert Barrable / Damien Connolly (Ford Fiesta R5)
SS2 Craig Breen/Scott Martin (Peugeot 208 T16 R5)
SS3 Declan Boyle/Brian Boyle (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS4 Robert Barrable / Damien Connolly (Ford Fiesta R5)
SS5 Craig Breen/Scott Martin (Peugeot 208 T16 R5)
SS6 Kajetan Kajetanowicz / Jaroslaw Baran (Ford Fiesta R5)
SS7 Alexey Lukanyuk / Yevhen Chervonenko (Ford Fiesta R5)
SS8 Alexey Lukanyuk / Yevhen Chervonenko (Ford Fiesta R5)
SS9 Declan Boyle/Brian Boyle (Subaru Impreza WRC)
SS10 Craig Breen/Scott Martin (Peugeot 208 T16 R5)
SS11 Craig Breen/Scott Martin (Peugeot 208 T16 R5)
SS12 Robert Barrable / Damien Connolly (Ford Fiesta R5)
SS13 Robert Barrable / Damien Connolly (Ford Fiesta R5)
SS14 Craig Breen/Scott Martin (Peugeot 208 T16 R5)
SS15 Craig Breen/Scott Martin (Peugeot 208 T16 R5)
SS16 Craig Breen/Scott Martin (Peugeot 208 T16 R5)
SS17 Kajetan Kajetanowicz / Jaroslaw Baran (Ford Fiesta R5)
SS18 Craig Breen/Scott Martin (Peugeot 208 T16 R5)

Video: Qualifying Stage

Posted: June 6, 2015 6:17 AM

Robert Woodside to drive Tuthill Porsche R-GT on Circuit of Ireland

Posted: June 6, 2015 5:43 AM

The Clonakilty Blackpudding Irish Tarmac Rally Championship will have its first ever R-GT car on a championship counting round when Richard Tuthills Porsche 911 hits the Circuit of Ireland stages over Easter. It is almost thirty years since one of the most iconic cars ever to compete in rallying appeared in homologated form on an Irish Rally, that being the 1986 Circuit of Ireland in the hands of Billy Coleman. This newer variation is eligible to compete in the R-GT class and will be driven by Robert Woodside who will be navigated by Allan Harryman, both sons of former winners of the Circuit of Ireland.

A further development is that Robert has registered for points in the Tarmac Championship which will generate even more interest.
'I grew up watching Porsche 911s winning Irish rallies' remembers Robert. 'Who could forget Henri Toivonen & Billy Coleman in the Rothmans Porsche 911s of the 1980's which Tuthill Porsche had a hand in building'. The latest incarnation of the Porsche 911 has already been seen on a WRC round this year and it looks and sounds very impressive.

'It is a delight to bring our Porsche R-GT to Ireland', said Tuthill team boss Richard Tuthill. 'As Robert and Allan have previously established a formidable partnership on this challenging event, we're looking forward to three thrilling days with the Porsche R-GT at our second home here in Ireland'.

Richard Tuthill has offered special thanks to David Gray and the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship committee for their support and encouragement. 'It's third time lucky for the Tuthill Porsches endeavours to bring this iconic car to the Championship in Ireland,' says David. 'They tried to bring the car to last year's Ulster Rally, and then out to Cork, but it was not to be. Having it here for the Circuit will please many Irish rally and Porsche fans.' '

Learn more about the Tuthill Porsche 911 R-GT car and keep up with the team's latest news at or via Tuthill social media channels.

Country Star Rallies into Downpatrick

Posted: March 26, 2015 12:08 PM

High profile country singer Nathan Carter will return to his County Down roots when he takes to the roads outside Downpatrick in a rally car on Good Friday, as part of the 2015 Discover Northern Ireland Circuit of Ireland Rally 2-4 April. The ?Wagon Wheel? star who has chalked up five hit albums in his career to date will experience Circuit stages from the ?co-driver? seat at Hamilton?s Folly and Bucks Head as well as the Downpatrick Regroup session on Friday 3rd April at approximately 2.30pm. Pictured with Nathan is top local rally driver, Derek McGarrity (right) a former five times winner of the Circuit of Ireland.

On Good Friday (3rd April) Downpatrick?s St Patrick?s Square will be a hub for the Circuit of Ireland which kicks off at 10.30am with a Ceremonial Start for the ?National? entries in the Circuit of Ireland. Visitors can enjoy a full programme of family entertainment including live music, face painters, climbing wall, a bouncy castle from 10am.

Rally Stars Back Circuit's Ards Special Stage

Posted: March 17, 2015 9:17 AM

Thousands of spectators are expected to pack the streets of Newtownards on Good Friday evening (3rd April 2015) to watch an anticipated 140 cars tackle a new and revised route at the end of the first day of competitive rallying in this year's Circuit of Ireland Rally.

The event represents the third round of the FIA European Rally Championship and is also a counting round of the FIA ERC Junior Championship.
Building on last year’s huge success, organisers of the Ards Town Centre Special Stage are planning a route of nearly two kilometres taking in roads in the Castlebawn Estate on the east side of the town centre with rally cars starting off from 6pm.

A key highlight of the 2014 Circuit, last year’s ground-breaking Ards TT stage attracted a record 25,000 people lining the streets of Newtownards and organisers alongside hosts, Ards Borough Council, have confirmed that designated ‘hubs’ will be created this year to afford even better spectator opportunities. Additionally the Council will organise a programme of family entertainment to complement the Circuit’s rally programme.

Helping to launch the 2015 Ards Town Centre Special Stage, alongside Mayor of Ards, Councillor Philip Smith, was world rally legend Paddy Hopkirk. One of Northern Ireland’s top sporting heroes, Paddy’s name appears five times on the historic and prestigious Circuit trophy as he chalked up wins in 1958, ’61, ’62, ’65 and ’67. Paddy Hopkirk continues to be an avid follower and supporter of the Circuit of Ireland and said he was delighted to be in Newtownards to launch this year’s special Good Friday evening stage.

“Historically the streets of Newtownards have resonated with top motorsport competition when international drivers competed in the world famous Ards TT Races during the late 1920s and into the 1930s. I myself enjoyed wonderful Circuit of Ireland successes in the 50s and early 60s and I’m delighted that famous rally stars will once again be back in Newtownards for a new and refreshed town centre stage.”

Also backing the Ards Town Centre Special Stage is ‘modern rally legend’ and Peugeot Rally Academy driver, Craig Breen who currently sits second in the European Rally Championship following his win in Latvia, the last ERC event.

“Newtownards last year was unbelievable! As we drove round the town centre streets it was amazing to see so many smiling faces – indeed fans of all ages! We received a fantastic welcome. There are some incredible names on the Circuit of Ireland trophy such as Paddy Hopkirk and hopefully my name will be there after Easter!”

Adding his support to the 2015 event, Mayor of Ards, Councillor Philip Smith said, "Ards is thrilled to welcome back the Circuit of Ireland, especially given that the Newtownards TT Town centre stage was one of the highlights of last year’s rally. This prestigious weekend of rallying is recognised as one of Northern Ireland's best sporting events with a worldwide following. Hosting the Circuit will bring many benefits to the local economy and establish the borough's growing reputation as a venue for high quality events."

Entries closed on 17 March and Event Director Bobby Willis said “We’re extremely pleased with the range of entries received. We have many local names and also a huge amount of foreign teams- from as far away as Hungary, Russia, Latvia and Czech Republic. It’s fantastic to think that all of these drivers, who wouldn’t normally visit our shores, will have the opportunity of sampling our world famous Northern Ireland hospitality.”

Mr Willis also paid tribute to the Ards Borough Council members and staff for their support and contribution to the Circuit of Ireland. “I’m looking forward to building on all our hard work last year and I’m sure local spectators will once again turn out in force to warmly welcome all our 2015 rally competitors.”

The Circuit of Ireland Rally takes place from Thursday 2nd April until Saturday 4th April 2015 and will be the third of ten rounds in the 2015 FIA European Rally Championship. The 2015 Circuit of Ireland will also be counting rounds of the 2015 Irish Tarmac Championship and the Northern Ireland Rally Championship.


Posted: March 17, 2015 9:13 AM

Inessa Tushkanova hopes to have a new Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X in time for round three of the FIA European Rally Championship, the Circuit of Ireland Rally (2-4 April).

Co-driven by Dimitry Chumak, the Russia-based glamour model survived a dramatic Rally Liep?ja to record a strong scoring-points finish in both the ERC Ladies’ Trophy and ERC2 category in her Evo IX.

“I am working on my visa for Ireland and hope to be there,” said Tushkanova. “We get a new Evo X for that event, but I haven’t seen the new car yet as I’ve been so busy and also caught a cold in Liep?ja, which has taken some time to recover from.”

After two ERC rounds Tushkanova is tied for the ERC Ladies’ Trophy lead with Czech driver Martina Danhelová.

Breen and Meeke give rally fans a taste of the action at Circuit of Ireland launch

Posted: March 6, 2015 2:22 PM

With just over five weeks to go until the start of the Circuit of Ireland Rally, two of Ireland’s top drivers took a break in their training to help officially launch this year’s event in Lisburn.

Craig Breen, who currently sits second in the European Rally Championship following his recent win in Latvia, and WRC Citroen Racing Team driver, Dungannon’s Kris Meeke, joined Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster and Circuit of Ireland Rally Event Director Bobby Willis to give fans a taste of what’s in store this year.

The 2015 event, which will be held from Thursday April 2 to Saturday April 4, is one of 10 rallies in the prestigious FIA European Rally Championship calendar and will be the only round of the ERC in the UK and Ireland.

Last year over 74,000 people came to view the stunning stages across counties Antrim and Down and the event, broadcast by Eurosport, was seen by over 14 million across the world.

Speaking at Lagan Valley Island in Lisburn, where the thrilling ‘Power Stage’ of the rally will be held on Saturday 4 April, Mr Willis said: “I’m so proud and excited that we are launching this historic event for 2015 with the support of the Enterprise Minister, her department and so many of our local councils.

“Right here in Lisburn and across counties Antrim and Down we’ll be witnessing some of Europe’s top drivers revving up for action over a three-day period this Easter. It really will be a hallmark event for Northern Ireland and a superb rally spectacle. “It’s fantastic that our talented home-grown drivers Craig Breen and Kris Meeke have taken time out of their busy schedules to come here today.

“Breen is certainly one to watch for the Circuit, after his win in Latvia, but there will be serious competition for him. The cream of the European Championship’s drivers are coming and it’s likely to be a fantastic fight to be first to the podium on Easter Saturday afternoon.

“My thanks must go to Kris Meeke for his unfailing support for the Circuit of Ireland. He’s a wonderful ambassador for the event both at home and abroad.”

Minister Arlene Foster, whose department supports the event, said: “Following on from the great success of last year’s event, the 2015 Circuit of Ireland Rally once more promises to deliver the very best in motorsport as Europe’s finest drivers compete on the most challenging roads in Northern Ireland.

“The huge interest in the event presents an outstanding opportunity to showcase our beautiful landscapes and spectacular scenery to international visitors and television viewers alike. With an expected television audience of over 14 million people, we are perfectly placed to help raise the profile of Northern Ireland - both to those who come here to spectate as well as to those tuning in around the world.”

Waterford driver Craig Breen said: “Last year’s Circuit of Ireland was an amazing event with so many highlights, including the welcome we received from fans at Belfast City Hall and at each individual stage.

“Although it wasn’t the most successful rally for me as my car suffered problems and I had to retire, we’ve sorted out the problems and my car ran faultlessly in both Austria and Latvia, so I’m feeling positive and excited about competing in the home round of the ERC.

“I really appreciate all the months of preparation work by Bobby, Tom Walsh, the Clerk of the Course, and all the Circuit team.”

Kris Meeke said: “The Circuit of Ireland is a fantastic event on some of the best tarmac roads in the world. It’s great that it’s now part of the ERC, and I may be biased but I would dearly love to see it included in the WRC as I believe it could easily carry itself.”

The Circuit received another boost last week when it emerged that world famous actor Idris Elba, who played Nelson Mandela in the film Mandela – Long Walk to Freedom, is to compete in this year’s event as part of a new Discovery TV series where he pushes himself to the limit on a range of sporting challenges.

Jean-Baptiste Ley, ERC Co-ordinator, said: "This year’s Circuit of Ireland will provide a really exciting challenge to the ERC competitors – and a great event for the fans too. Many of the leading ERC registered drivers will compete in Ireland, the ERC Juniors will be there in force and Eurosport will reward the top seven privateers with a share of 20,000 euros in prize money. And with the beautiful landscape and spectacular action, the Circuit of Ireland always looks fantastic on television." Fans will have several opportunities to see the rally action over Easter weekend. The Qualifying Stage of the Rally will be based at Ballycultra Village, at the Ulster Folk & Transport Museum on Thursday 2 April, followed by a ceremonial start at Belfast City Hall that evening.

Spectator Stages will take place in Newtownards on Friday 3 April and Lisburn on Saturday 4 April. Downpatrick will be a regroup area on Friday while on Saturday Banbridge and Hillsborough Castle will play host to teams regrouping.

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 competitors and team personnel over four days from Wednesday 1 April.

Entries for the 2015 Circuit of Ireland close on Tuesday 17 March.

Organisers are in the process of finalising arrangements for what promises to be a bumper few days of motorsport and the management team is calling for additional volunteers to join the existing team of marshals. For more details and to register log onto or call the volunteer hotline (NI) 07956 612235 or RoI 00353 (0) 8572 39426.

Idris Elba gears up for Circuit of Ireland Rally

Posted: February 21, 2015 12:45 AM

World famous actor Idris Elba has been trying out a new role as a rally driver on the roads of Monaghan, before taking part in this year’s Circuit of Ireland Rally in just a few weeks’ time.

Car enthusiast Elba, who played Nelson Mandela in the film Mandela – Long Walk to Freedom, as well as winning a Golden Globe for his role in the BBC crime thriller series Luther, has been test driving in Monaghan to get a true feel of the driving skills needed for the Rally on Easter weekend.

The career change for the actor and producer comes as he embarks on a new and exciting challenge pushing himself to his limit, racing on land, water and in the air for a new 4-part TV documentary series airing on Discovery TV.

Each challenge will see Idris join a team of professionals who will work with him to help him achieve his goals, and this week he was learning the tricks of the trade from experienced World Rally Championship co-driver, Michael Orr from Bangor, County Down.

Elba, 42, will learn the mechanics of British Junior Rally Champion Gus Greensmith’s Ford Fiesta R1 and how to handle pacenotes and practice on closed roads in the most testing of situations.

As part of the series he will also work with seven-time Circuit of Ireland winner and rally legend Jimmy McRae on advanced tuition.

Rally Director Bobby Willis said it was a “major coup” that the acclaimed actor was so keen to take part in the historic international event, one of the world’s oldest rallies, first organised in 1931 as the Ulster Motor Rally.

Mr Willis added,
“We are so thrilled to host such a well-known celebrity at the rally as he takes on a new challenge. He will be truly pushed to his limits as he learns the finely-honed skills, precision and dedication needed to take part in the adrenalin-fuelled Circuit of Ireland this Easter.

“In recent years we have built up the rally to become a major event in the sporting calendar of Northern Ireland and last year over 74,000 people came to view the various stages while it was viewed by over 14 million people across the world.

“The fact that Elba’s series will broadcast on the Discovery Channel in the UK, US and across more than 220 countries and territories showcasing Northern Ireland and the Circuit to an audience of many million more viewers is staggering but amazing news!” The three-day 2015 Circuit of Ireland Rally will get underway on Thursday 2 April when Europe’s top drivers rev up in the heart of Belfast, with a ceremonial start taking place at the City Hall.

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 competitors and team personnel over four days from Wednesday 1 April.

For up to date information on the 2015 Circuit of Ireland visit the event website.

Michael Orr, Idris Elba and Bobby Willis.


Posted: February 7, 2015 6:08 PM

Huge prize fund up for grabs on Circuit of Ireland Rally

Posted: February 7, 2015 6:06 PM

Eligible drivers taking part on the Circuit of Ireland Rally from April 2-4 will chase a share of a 20,000 Euros prize fund.

European Rally Championship promoter Eurosport Events has created a prize fund totalling 200,000 Euros in partnership with several key stakeholders to assist drivers without manufacturer support competing in the ERC. It will be split between the 10 ERC rounds.

It is the first time in recent history that a major international rally championship has offered a season-long prize fund and is another example of how Eurosport Events is assisting drivers and teams contesting the ERC, having previously introduced a number of measures to reduce the cost of competition.

The round-by-round prize fund of 20,000 Euros will be allocated to the seven highest-placed eligible drivers according to the final official classification:
First position: €7000 Second position: €5000 Third position: €3000 Fourth position: €2000 Fifth position: €1000 Sixth position: €1000 Seventh position: €1000.

To be eligible, drivers must register for the ERC, receive no manufacturer support (as determined by Eurosport), use tyres from one of the three ERC partner companies (Michelin, Pirelli and Yokohama) and not compete in a Regional Rally Car.

Belfast to play central role in 2015 Circuit of Ireland Rally

Posted: January 17, 2015 9:34 AM

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 Liep?ja 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.

Circuit of Ireland appoints new Clerk of Course

Posted: January 12, 2015 8:19 PM

Tom Walsh (COC) with Bobby Willis (Event Director)

Circuit of Ireland Rally organisers have announced that County Mayo man and well known rally official Tom Walsh, will take over the role of Clerk of Course for the 2015 event. Andy Gilmore, who managed the 2014 rally has had to give up the role due to his work commitments.

Originally from County Limerick, Tom Walsh has been involved in rallying since 1969 when he took on his first marshalling role with a rally - the Circuit of Ireland. During the 1970’s and 1980’s Tom managed rally star Billy Coleman over a 14 year period helping him clinch three Circuit wins. Tom had a five year tenure as Chairman of the Tarmac Rally Organisers Association (TROA) and was Clerk of Course for the first ever Rally Ireland WRC in 2007 and Sporting Director for the 2009 Rally Ireland WRC. Tom is currently a member of the Motorsport Ireland Commission.

“I got hooked on rallying in the 1960’s when as a young lad I first watched the Circuit of Ireland close to my home in Co Limerick and later I became a marshal at the Circuit. Since then I have referred to it as my ‘iconic rally’ so when Bobby called me and asked if I could take on the Clerk of Course position I had no hesitation in accepting!” explained Tom Walsh.

Paying tribute to Andy Gilmore’s contribution to the Circuit of Ireland, event director Bobby Willis said,
“As a member of the Circuit organising team and event Clerk of Course, Andy played a vital role in the management and development of the Circuit and has helped to make it such a hugely successful event which last year attracted a total of almost 74,000 spectators. On behalf of the committee I would like to thank Andy for all his hard work – it really has been hugely appreciated by competitors, organisers and all our marshals and other volunteers.

“Looking forward to early April we’re delighted to have secured Tom Walsh as our new Clerk of Course. Well-known and respected in the rallying world, Tom has a tremendous range of experience and expertise which he can bring to the Circuit of Ireland enabling us to further enhance the event for both drivers and spectators.”

The Circuit of Ireland Rally takes place from Thursday 2nd April until Saturday 4th April 2015 and will be the third of ten rounds in the 2015 European Rally Championship. The 2015 Circuit of Ireland will also be counting rounds of the 2015 Irish Tarmac Championship and the Northern Ireland Rally Championship.

Event / Club Website

Posted: January 12, 2015 8:18 PM

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