The start of the prestigious 2009 World Rally Championship (WRC) will begin in Seven cross-border counties in the north west of Ireland, it was officially revealed today.
This will be the first time that the beginning of the international sporting event will be held outside its traditional home in Monaco’s Monte Carlo in almost 30 years.
Around a quarter of a million spectators visited the same region for Rally Ireland 2007, generating €48m in revenue for the region.
The event, which was viewed by some 62 million people in 180 countries, also showcased Ireland internationally.
Rally Ireland’s John Naylor said that this previous success has been recognised by the WRC, who said the circuit was the second best round of the championship in 2007.
“Across the region festivals are been organised and this event will once again provide fans with the opportunity to see the world’s top rally drivers battling the testing stages in the North West and all for free,” he said.
The WRC will hold 12 rounds across the world, reaching a global TV audience of over 800 million viewers.
Enniskillen in Co Fermanagh will host the opening ceremony on January 29th, with the first stage taking place the following morning in County Cavan.
Competitors will drive through Leitrim, Fermanagh, Tyrone, Sligo, and Roscommon before the final stage, in Donegal on February 1, will be broadcast live across the world.