Circuit of Ireland Rally back on calendar for 2014

The Circuit of Ireland Rally is to return in 2014 and will form part of the European Rally Championship.

The Circuit of Ireland Rally will return to the calendar in 2014 and is set to feature in next year's revamped FIA European Rally Championship series.

Subject to final approval by the FIA, motorsport's world governing body, the traditional Easter event will return to the ERC roster after a lengthy absence.

The rally, which will be held on 18-19 April, will be the only UK and Ireland based round in the championship.

The event was cancelled last year because of extreme weather conditions.

Route details will be outlined early next year but it is anticipated that the rally will take in some of Northern Ireland's top tourism landmarks in counties Down and Antrim, as well as locations in Belfast.

The historic rally is one of the showpiece events of the Irish motorsport calendar.

The 2013 event was set to be staged as a round of the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship, with no international status, until heavy snow forced its cancellation.

Circuit of Ireland event director Bobby Willis said he was thrilled that the locally organised rally will be back in business.

"The management team, as well as our 700 plus volunteers, are extremely proud and excited to be part of a new look ERC programme," said Willis.

"The world's second oldest rally has always attracted high profile competitors and our inclusion in the 2014 ERC programme will help draw some of the best in the sport to Northern Ireland."

Among the top drivers being linked to ERC campaigns next year are Bryan Bouffier from France, Sepp Wiegand from Germany and Andreas Aigner of Austria, as well as Waterford driver Craig Breen and Robert Barrable from Swords.

Northern Ireland drivers likely to participate include Fermanagh-based Alastair Fisher and former British Junior Rally champion Marty McCormack from Draperstown.