Circuit of Ireland gearing up to be bigger and better in 2016

Last year Craig Breen (right) and  co driver Scott Martin drove a Peugeot 208 T16 to victory in the Circuit of Ireland Rally
Last year Craig Breen (right) and co driver Scott Martin drove a Peugeot 208 T16 to victory in the Circuit of Ireland Rally

Organisers of the Circuit of Ireland Rally are gearing up for an even bigger and better event in 2016.

In a major change, the event will not be staged over the traditional date at Easter, but will move to April 7-9, to accommodate European Rally Championship scheduling.

The rally will be part of the FIA European Rally Championship and also been selected for inclusion in both the 2016 British Rally Championship calendar and the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship.

In addition it will be a round of the Northern Ireland Rally Championship.

The event was last included in the British Rally Championship in 1991. The Ulster Rally also retains its round of this series. The rally will include the important European Rally Championship Junior Championship for drivers under 27 years.

Event Director, Bobby Willis said: “The past two years have seen the Circuit of Ireland growing in stature and reclaiming its legendary position as a world class event.

“It has been a fantastic experience being part of the European Rally Championship.

“To now be included as part of the British Rally Championship as well, demonstrates our ability to deliver an event of the highest professional and sporting standards.

“Last year 30 million viewers across the world watched the various stages on Eurosport, its global media partners and the Discovery channel.

“This exposure is not only fantastic for Northern Ireland but hugely increases our attraction as an event for international competitors.

“We’ve already begun discussions with teams and individuals interested in competing and I know that the line-up will once again be exceptional.”

* The Mid-Antrim Motor Club’s Glens of Antrim Rally provides a fitting finale to what has been an epic twenty-fifth Valvoline Motorsport Ireland National Forestry National Rally Championship.

Tomorrow the Cam and Springwell forest stages will host thirty-eight stage miles, stages that will decide the 2015 series.

Mick O’Brien holds the advantage in his Tom Gahan Ford Focus WRC, but when dropped scoring comes into play it is less clear cut.

For the first time this season, regular co-driver James O’Brien cannot make it so Liam Brennan has stepped in to see if he can guide the London based Irish man to his second forestry title.

“I have not thought much about it, could be more luck than judgment, what happens tomorrow, I think Josh Moffett is ahead of me on dropped scores, with his two wins to my one, but it is all to play for,” said O’Brien.

“I have not competed on this rally before, but the stages look excellent on the DVD, so I will just have to go for it. Josh is a good competitor and is very committed on the fast gravel. No matter who wins the series, I have really enjoyed competing.”