Circuit of Ireland Rally 2012

For dyed-in-the-wool rallying enthusiasts Easter weekend means only one thing - The Circuit of Ireland Rally, recounting evocative images of some outlandishly quick and sometimes ungainly rally cars of the 70's and 80's driven to their limit on asphalt by drivers such as Billy Coleman, Adrian Boyd, Cahal Curley, Dessie McCartney, Bertie Fisher, Russell Brookes and Jimmy McCrae, all indelibly carved in the Circuit's illustrious folklore.
The 2012 event will be a far more clinical affair, being round 3 of the FIA Intercontinental Rally Challenge. The top three drivers away from the Belfast start at 16:00 hrs Good Friday; Mikkelsen, Kopecky and Hanninen, will all be driving the ubiquitous Skoda Fabia S2000 and first 'home' driver is Craig Breen with a brand new Peugeot 207 at #4 followed by Alastair Fisher's Skoda Fabia running at #5. Don't discount Robert Barrable either, running his Fabia at #7 or Gary Jenning's EVO 9 at #8.
Following the Belfast start, drivers will compete on a themed stage in the city's Titanic Quarter, driving amongst the towering cranes at the Harland & Wolff shipyard where the iconic marine leviathan was created over 100 years ago. From there crews then contest 2 daylight and 2 darkness stages with the first car expected at the Armagh finish ramp at 22:45hrs.
The main body of the 15 stage 137 mile rally is on Saturday with three loops of the stages, the last loop featuring two runs through the street stage in Lisburn and the first car is due over the finish ramp in Amagh at 19:00 hrs. Derek McGarrity won this rally last year when not a round of the IRC and MIkkelsen leads the IRC after 2 rounds, I've a feeling that this year's Circuit has all the ingredients to reenact the epic battles previous witnessed on the Emerald Isle Easters past!

6th April, 2012