Thousands of spectators are expected to pack the streets of Lisburn on Easter Saturday as the Donnelly Group Circuit of Ireland Rally in association with UTV Drive roars into the City Centre, with support from Lisburn City Council.
The Council is sponsoring the Lisburn “Power Stage” which will see competitors battle the clock on public roads as Lisburn becomes the first city in the UK to close its centre for a competitive rally stage.
In a double for Lisburn City, UTV Drive will stream the Lisburn Power Stage live on the Internet, bringing the adrenaline fuelled excitement of the Circuit and images of Lisburn to motorsport fans across the globe.
Starting on the Queen’s Road in Lisburn, competitors will race through a 1km stage finishing at Lagan Valley Island, which houses the Council offices, in a rallying spectacular that will present incredible public viewing.
Speaking at the Lisburn launch, The Right Worshipful the Mayor of Lisburn, Alderman Paul Porter said:
“I’m delighted that in its 80th year the Circuit of Ireland Rally will be calling at our great city and that the Lisburn Power Stage is a first for rallying. Easter Saturday in Lisburn is not to be missed and we expect thousands of families to enjoy the sights and sounds of the Rally.
“The legendary status of the Rally is one of the reasons why the Council is keen to support this event and bring it to the City of Lisburn and I expect this long standing annual event to be a success during its visit to Lisburn on Easter Saturday.”
Councillor Jenny Palmer, Chairman of the Council’s Economic Development Committee, also present at the launch, said:
“The economic benefits of hosting such a high profile sporting event cannot be under estimated and the Council is delighted to be involved in such an event. The Council firmly believes that an event of this nature will attract thousands of visitors to the City Centre which will in turn generate significant income for the local economy particularly it is hoped for our retail and hospitality sectors. I would urge City Centre businesses to take full advantage of this opportunity being offered on Easter Saturday.
“The Donnelly Group Circuit of Ireland Rally in association with UTV Drive is the largest cross-border sporting event in Ireland and attracts a large and loyal family following and the Council looks forward to welcoming these individuals to Lisburn City.
“The Lisburn Power Stage will begin at 18:00 on Easter Saturday and the event will be advertised extensively on TV and radio with U105 broadcasting live from Lisburn on the day. To accompany this event the Council in partnership with Lisburn City Centre Management has also arranged other activities for families in Lisburn throughout the day on Easter Saturday such as a Ramprage BMX display, live music and family amusements in Castle Gardens.”
Jeremy Biggerstaff, Managing Director of UTV New Media said:
“At the launch we promised we would keep the local motoring public up-to-date with all the action and you can’t get any better than live pictures!
“While I am certain motorsport fans will not want to miss the action in Lisburn, those who are not in the country can keep up with the drama on UTV Drive.”
The Lisburn Power Stage represents one of 16 stages in this year’s rally which starts at midday at the Armagh City Hotel before competitors travel across counties Armagh, Down, Antrim, Tyrone and Monaghan before finishing in Armagh on Easter Sunday.
Lead sponsor the Donnelly Motor Group will showcase its range of electric cars at this year’s Lisburn Power Stage and at the start/finish in Armagh, as Managing Director Terence Donnelly explained.
“This year’s Circuit of Ireland Rally has a very futuristic feel. With online streaming and city centre stages it’s only natural that the Donnelly Group lets the public see the future of motoring in Northern Ireland.
“We have a range of electric cars available from manufacturers including Mitsubishi Peugeot and Citroen and are really looking forward to showing off what the Electric Vehicles are capable of.”
Circuit of Ireland Rally Director Bobby Willis managed the World Rally Championship Super Special Stage at Stormont in 2007. He believes the Lisburn Power Stage is the future of Rallying.
“When I took over the day-to-day running of the Circuit last year I said that I wanted to bring Rallying back to the people and that’s exactly what the Lisburn Power Stage will do.
“Rally fans and families alike will be able to greet the drivers before the stage and the many viewing points will excite spectators and bring them closer yet safer to the action than ever before.”
For the latest information on the rally with details on the 16 stages go to www.circuitofireland.net or follow the Rally on Facebook.