Circuit of Ireland rally axed for 2013

Published Friday, 14 December 2012
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The annual Circuit of Ireland International Rally, the second oldest rally in the world, will not be held in 2013 - after falling short of funding.

Circuit of Ireland rally axed for 2013
Action during the Titanic Quarter stage of the Circuit of Ireland 2012. (© Pacemaker)

The world renowned event is traditionally held over the Easter weekend, and was last year watched by a television audience of nearly nine million people after being included in the IRC series.

The event had been provisionally named in the 2013 FIA European Rally Championship calendar.

But organisers have now taken the difficult decision to pull the plug on next year's event.

"This is an extremely painful judgement for me to make and one that I do not enter into lightly," Rally Director Bobby Willis said.

This is not the end for the Circuit of Ireland Rally and I, along with the 700 volunteers it takes to run the rally, will regroup and begin planning now for 2014.

Bobby Willis, Circuit of Ireland

Having taken over the reins three years ago, he had publically expressed concerns in October over funding for 2013.

"We have received significant backing from Government, but we were falling short of our full funding requirements and - given the delay this has imposed - it is now impossible to organise an international sporting event in less than three months," Willis said.

While he recognises the disappointment for fans, he added: "Over the last three years, I have invested my own money and resources into getting the rally up and running - in the hope that funding would materialise before the event.

"I am no longer willing to play Russian roulette with my own finances in order to safeguard a rally that has worldwide appeal, even though it is so close to my heart."

While Willis recognises that staging the Circuit of Ireland is a "huge logistical challenge", he insisted it was one with plenty of rewards.

"It offers incredible tourism potential and rewards, as last year proved with picture-perfect postcard images of Northern Ireland broadcast around the globe," he said.

Last year's event featured a special stage at Belfast's Titanic Quarter and was eventually won by Finland's Juno Hänninen in his Skoda Fabia S2000.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
5 Comments
Cameron in Bangor wrote (489 days ago):
Charles I have agree with everyone else here, On Your Bike, crappy football gets funding but 1 weekend that makes Northern Ireland famous gets cut short for funding, a discrase
grant in county down wrote (577 days ago):
Terrible news its funny how the sponsorship is always available for football etc but motor sport enthusiasts short changed again And Charles wind your neck in and go and hug a tree
Brendan in Norn Iron wrote (593 days ago):
On your bike Charles
Jenny Heath in Belfast wrote (593 days ago):
Its just the International Section of the Rally. THE NATIONAL EVENT IS STILL RUNNING!!
charles in lisbellaw wrote (594 days ago):
So some good news at last, it will be refreshing to know that the environmental hooligans of rallying will not be destroying this countries environment this Easter as they usually do. In these times of environmental awareness, is it not time the big companies stopped financing this environmental vandalism with their big sponsorship cheques ?.
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