The Circuit of Ireland's inclusion as a supporter event on the Intercontinental Rally Challenge is being touted as the first step to returning the event to its former strength.
The Circuit of Ireland, which ran for the first time in 1931, is the second oldest rally in the world, but in recent years it has slipped from favor in the sport. It lost its place in the British Rally Championship and failed to run altogether in 2007, when the organizing committee failed to reach agreement on the best way forward for the rally. Now, however, a deal with the IRC has offered the event a lifeline. The Circuit of Ireland received IRC Supporter Event status at the series' recent awards evening in Paris.
Circuit of Ireland rally director Bobby Willis said: "Having this prestigious charter bestowed upon the Circuit of Ireland is the first step in our strategy to reawaken the sleeping sporting giant that is the Circuit of Ireland. On top of that, Circuit of Ireland will be the only rally event to be granted 'Supporter Event' in Ireland for 2010."
The 2009 IRC champion Kris Meeke is well aware of the importance of the Circuit of Ireland, coming from County Tyrone. "The global success and growth of the IRC is testament to the popularity of rallying across the world and I'm delighted that Circuit of Ireland is to become part of this family," he said.
The IRC Supporter Event scheme allows selected national events to benefit from the prestige of being associated with the IRC, from the strengths of the IRC brand, and to promote themselves internationally through on-demand video highlights available on the IRC website.