The 74th running of the event will also be in the spotlight as it will be vetted for inclusion in the prestigious Intercontinental Rally Challenge as details of the event were announced yesterday.
Following the ceremonial start from Dundalk on Easter Saturday, the crews will tackle eight stages in Co Down prior to the nighttime stage near Banbridge.
Easter Sunday’s six stages will be run in the Castleblayney/Crossmaglen region. Speaking at the launch, Bobby Willis (Rally Director) said, “The feedback to the introduction of the night-time stage has already been immense and we seem to be on the right track in re-invigorating the enthusiasm for the circuit.
“When I took over the day-to-day management of the circuit a few months ago we promised fans and competitors alike that we’d introduce new elements, as we aim to grow the rally over the coming years. Already we’ve secured Intercontinental Rally Championship (IRC) Supporter Event Status and I hope to secure funding to ensure that the Circuit of Ireland becomes a round of the IRC in the near future.” The event, with the main rally service base in Newry, will be supported by Banbridge District Council, the Park Inn Hotel, Dundalk, KDM Hire, The Web Bureau and Kantar Media.”
Meanwhile, the fate of Rally Ireland as part of the 2011 World Rally Championship calendar may already be decided as series promoter, North One Sport, finalises its proposed schedule of events. An announcement of the 2011 calendar is expected at next month’s meeting of the World Motor Sport Council.
Better known for his rallying exploits, Kildare’s, Tommy Graham can move a step closer to clinching the Irish Rallycross Championship on Sunday’s penultimate round in Mondello Park. Entering Sunday’s sixth round encounter the Prosperous ace and winner of the most recent round, is 12 points ahead of Michael Coyne.
With 20 points on offer for victory, Coyne will be hoping that his rival will encounter problems. Fellow Supercar competitors, Andrew Morris and David Dempsey are the best of the rest. In the Jondol Junior Rallycross class, Mini pair, Paul Barrett and Simon Quinn are only a point apart with Andrew Patterson seven points adrift of leader Barrett. The organising Carlow Car Club has attracted some 70 entries including Mark Watson (Citroen Xsara WRC) and Wexford’s, David James (Mitsubishi Evo) Practice gets underway at 9.15am with the first heats at 10.15am and the finals at 3.30pm.
John Cairns (Subaru) heads the entry for tomorrow’s Fivemiletown based Omagh Spring Rally. Defending champion, Cairns has the Group N Mitsubishi’s of Johnny McKenna and Alastair Fisher as his main opposition. Meanwhile, Martin Cairns is will drive a Subaru WRC. The top two wheel drive exponents are Adrian Hetherington, Frank Kelly and Seamus O’Connell. Mallow’s, Sarah Moynihan (Mitsubishi) is amongst the late entries.
Elsewhere tomorrow, the Cork 4x4 Trial at Rockgrove, Coachford begins at 11am and the Donegal Navigation Trial starts in Laghey at 8.45pm. On Sunday, the Cavan Loose Surface Autocross at Latton Quarry starts at 10.30; the Monaghan Motor Club’s Hewison Autotest begins at 11.30am and the second day of the Cork 4X4 at Rockgrove starts at 11am.
Following a meeting in Mallow on Wednesday night last, the Association of Munster Motor Clubs (AMMC) has been revived. Consisting of the four Cork clubs, two Kerry clubs, two Tipperary Clubs along with Clare, Birr and Limerick, the eleven strong group will be chaired by Frank O’Mahony, former chairperson of the Rallies Committee.
Donabate’s, single-seater racing ace, Gary Thompson will race in the Japanese Formula 3 series with the Achievement by KCMG squad. The 17 year old won the Rookie Cup in the Formula BMW Pacific series last season, his first season in single-seaters. Thompson finally signed the deal that was on the table since early 2009 and will begin testing next month.
“KCMG have won many races in Japanese F3 and they have shown an interest in me right from the start of my car career. I’ve done some testing in a German specification F3 car in Valencia recently and they really are fantastic machines.”
The 16-race Japanese F3 series gets under way at the Suzuka Grand Prix circuit on April 17th.