Rally Ireland Will Kick Off 2009 Series

The roar of high performance rally cars is to return to Ireland early next year.

As Rally Sardinia finished on Sunday - with another victory for Frenchman Sebastien Loeb, marking his 40th World Rally Championship win - news that Rally Ireland will launch 2009's 12-round series has emerged.

The FIA World Motorsport Council has voted to award Ireland a round of the World Rally Championship with the provisional dates being Thursday 29 January to Sunday 1 February.

This year's rally proved to be the biggest sporting event in Ireland, with up to 200,000 spectators and 3,000 volunteers and the 2009 rally will again be a cross-border event - held in the same regions.

This year's highly successful rally, the first ever such WRC event to take place anywhere in Ireland, ran across eight counties, north and south of the border, and was opened with a 'super special stage' in the grounds of Stormont in Belfast and concluding with a special stage on Sligo's Atlantic coast at Mullaghmore.

Following the FIA's decision Rally Ireland founders Sean O'Connor and Ronan Morgan said they were "honoured that Ireland has been awarded the most prestigious position of opening the 2009 WRC series".

"This is a direct result of the hard work by thousands of volunteers who worked on our event, our fantastic fans and the outstanding levels of political support we have received since we started the project.

"The residents of each stage must also be commended for their co-operation and support in making Rally Ireland the huge success it was," they added.

See: Millions Tune In As Rally Championships Speed To Stormont


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