Circuit revs up to a new Belfast ‘beat’
The city of Belfast will once again be a key host for this year’s Circuit of Ireland Rally with organisers revealing a new home for the Circuit’s Rally HQ and Service Park at iconic Belfast landmark, the King’s Hall Complex, Balmoral.
Famous for its boxing showdowns, pop concerts including the Beatles in 1964 and agricultural festivals, The King’s Hall will play host to the Circuit which will be one of the last large scale events at the popular 1930’s venue.
Explaining the background to the new move, Circuit of Ireland event director Bobby Willis said:
“Belfast City is a key hub of the Circuit and it was important to identify a new top quality location to house our Rally Office and Village, Service Park and Media Centre and one which has easy access to all stage routes across counties Antrim and Down.
“Titanic has been a fantastic site for the past two years but with further development and new infrastructure at Titanic Quarter, it was necessary to move to a different location to acquire the space and accommodation needed for the 1000 plus competitors and team personnel who will be based at the Service Park from 6th to 9th April.
“We’ve thoroughly enjoyed our partnership with Titanic Quarter and I would like to thank them for all their support, but equally the Circuit team is looking forward to utilising a brand new venue and especially one which has a historic connection to the Circuit of Ireland Rally.
“Indeed this is a return visit to the King’s Hall as the venue played host to the start of the 1971 rally when Adrian Boyd and Beatty Crawford chalked up a victory. I’m sure this year it will be a fitting ‘Last Hurrah’ for this much loved art deco building.”
Bobby Willis also paid tribute to Circuit partner Belfast City Council who alongside Tourism NI, Tourism Ireland and the majority of NI regional councils, provides significant support for the Circuit which last year attracted almost 79,000 visitors to Belfast and other locations throughout Northern Ireland.
“With Belfast City Council’s help we aim to make our legendary event even bigger and better attracting more spectators and reaching out to potential new visitors through coverage generated by Eurosport and Discovery Channel.”
Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Arder Carson joined international rally driver Jonny Greer to launch Belfast’s role in the 2016 event.
Welcoming the Circuit to Belfast, the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Cllr Arder Carson said:
“I am delighted that Belfast is again playing a key role in this year’s Circuit of Ireland Rally, and that the event continues to be a highlight in our city’s calendar. I have no doubt that this year’s event will be bigger and better and we look forward to welcoming participants as well as thousands of rally fans to enjoy all that Belfast has to offer.”
The Circuit of Ireland Rally takes place on 7-9 April and is the third of 10 rounds in the 2016 FIA European Rally Championship (ERC). The 2016 event is also part of the 2016 British Championship (BRC) the Irish Tarmac Championship series and is a counting round of the Northern Ireland Championship.
Circuit organisers will in due course announce further details on the rally route, stages and entries.
In addition to Belfast City Council other regional councils supporting the 2016 Circuit of Ireland Rally are Ards and North Down, Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon, Causeway Coast and Glens, Lisburn and Castlereagh, Antrim and Newtownabbey. Newry, Mourne and Down District Council and Mid and East Antrim Council are also expected to formally pledge their support of the international event in the coming weeks.
Entries are set to open in early February and organisers are expecting another bumper entry in 2016. The team would also welcome new volunteers to help manage each of the stages and anyone interested can contact organisers via the volunteer page on www.circuitofireland.net.
For up-to-date information visit http://www.circuitofireland.net . Follow on www.facebook.com/circuitofireland or www.twitter.com/CircuitIreland .