The Circuit of Ireland Rally is going ‘live’ and global this year. For the first time it will be available to watch around the world via the internet, as it happens, on the events own website, www.circuitofireland.net.
The rally, which is part of the European, British and Irish Tarmac championships, is to be streamed live with coverage from many of the special stages and from the service areas including end-of-stage interviews with the crews.
“I don’t think this has been done on this scale on any rally anywhere in the world before and has taken many months of negotiations to obtain the requisite permissions to broadcast the Circuit of Ireland globally,” said Event Director Bobby Willis.
“But more and more people are accessing their entertainment and their sport via computers, tablets and smart phones and we believe this is an important way to broaden the rally’s appeal. Eurosport, will of course be screening the rally with highlights programmes each evening. In 2015 this reached over 40 million people globally and is an incredible asset for our event.
“In addition, there will be coverage from drones and from in-car cameras as well as live pictures and commentary from the Ards TT stage on Friday evening. This has proved so incredibly popular in the past.”
Access to live streaming will be via link on the rally’s website www.circuitofireland.net starting on Friday 8th April.
The programme will be presented by Jon Desborough and Trevor Agnew, with Seb Marshall, Gareth Stewart and Lisa O’Sullivan leading the reporting team. Desborough is familiar to many rally fans as the commentator for both the World and British Rally Championship’s TV programmes.
Marshall is Kevin Abbring’s co-driver in the Hyundai Motorsport WRC team, Gareth Stewart is a popular Northern Ireland radio host and motorsport fan, whilst O’Sullivan produces the WRC Live radio programmes.
Agnew who is originally from Markethill, Co. Armagh is a former Production World Rally Champion co-driver, and is excited about the programme.
“Like the majority of the population, I grew up with the Circuit of Ireland, going to the rally for the first time aged 10. With the phenomenal entry for this year’s rally, our live programme will allow us to bring the excitement to many more people throughout the world as the drama unfolds. Whether you are in Sydney, London, New York or standing at the side of a Special Stage at the rally, fans will have access to a lot more information in a new and innovative way.”
The rally, which has attracted a record entry and includes European champion Kajetan Kajetanowicz and last year’s winner Craig Breen, begins on Thursday with the Qualifying Stage which is based at Antrim Castle Gardens and will be followed by a ceremonial start outside the Irish Linen Centre and Lisburn Museum in the evening.
The Friday leg features rural stages close to Larne and Ballymena and includes a re-fuel halt at the Ballymena Showgrounds. It also encompassing Glendun Stage and Torr Head as well as a passage control at the Dark Hedges and a re-group at The Ards TT Stage will take place in Newtownards town centre on Friday evening.
The Saturday leg will include stages close to Downpatrick, Ballynahinch, Dromore and Banbridge with town centre control points in Downpatrick and Banbridge.
The rally will finish back in Belfast on Saturday evening and will culminate in a special closing ceremony outside Queen’s University when the 2016 winners will be presented with the historic Circuit of Ireland trophy.
Image from Roy Dempster/Lakeland Tyres