Looks like its official now - an all tarmac event.
Rally Ireland, the cross-border World Championship bid event launched earlier this year, will run between 10th and 12th March 2006. The format for the 2006 event will change to an all-tarmac surface event. The March event will be observed by officials from the governing body of motorsport, the Federation International de l'Automobile (FIA), for possible inclusion in the World Rally Championship (WRC) Calendar on an annual basis from 2007.
"This is a major undertaking by Ireland and we are looking for everybody to back our bid, said Sean OConnor, Co-Promoter, Rally Ireland. "We believe that the March date is tactically the best date to facilitate consideration for 2007. Our rally will be the first WRC candidate event to be observed next year."
OConnor went on to explain that following consultation with all key stakeholders, the FIA, the teams, the TV rights holders and the sponsors, Filte Ireland and NIEC, it was agreed to change from the mixed surface format (gravel and tarmac) employed in 2005 to a full tarmac surface next year.
"Running on tarmac facilitates the best TV coverage of the stunning countryside in the North West. This provides us with a better choice of roads to choose from and the heritage of Irish rallying has been on tarmac," said Tom Nolan, who has been reappointed as Clerk of the Course for the WRC bid event next year following the successful 2005 pilot event.
Rally Ireland is the most ambitious cross-border sporting initiative on the island of Ireland. If the WRC bid is successful it would create the largest annual sporting event in Ireland. The WRC has an annual global audience of more than 770 million TV viewers in more than 150 countries. The event is supported by both the British and Irish Governments.