Cross Border Rally Revs Up For Action

Cross Border Rally Revs Up For Action

One of the most prestigious rally events in the world accelerates into the border counties this evening.

For only the second time ever, top name drivers are revving up, ready to take part in the World Rally Championship (WRC) 2009, with all the stages again taking place around the west of Ireland - covering both the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland.

World Champion, Sébastien Loeb, who won Rally Ireland in 2007, (pictured here racing to an earlier victory by Adam McCalden), is glad to be contesting the event once again.

"The first time we came here everything went well for us and the result proved decisive in our bid to win a fourth world title," recalls the champion Citroen driver.

Commentators relate that the region's fast yet narrow stages are famed for being very bumpy, but the terrain suits the Citroën C4 WRC, since Loeb and teammate, Dani Sordo came first and second in the 2007 event.

Late this afternoon, NI Sports Minister, Gregory Campbell, kicked off the event in scenic Enniskillen and said: "It's Enniskillen's turn to be centre stage with the magnificent Castle and breathtaking Fermanagh scenery providing a striking backdrop for the opening ceremony of the WRC and the first stage of the rally.

"I am particularly pleased that my department has provided significant funding of £850,000 towards the Rally Ireland event and that a region west of the Bann is to benefit from this prestigious rally championship," he said, noting that, for international broadcasters, it will provide spectacular TV pictures of the Fermanagh Lakelands, and showcase Northern Ireland to audiences all over the world.

Tourism Minister Arlene Foster also said: "Rally Ireland presents a major opportunity to promote Northern Ireland to an international audience. When the event last took place here in 2007, it attracted over 250,000 spectators and reached almost 90 million people across the globe," she commented.

The cross-border rally is all the more important as it launches the prestigious 12-round global series.

Following Rally Ireland's 2007 success - which ran across eight counties, north and south, and concluded with a special stage on Sligo's Atlantic coast at Mullaghmore, this year's event will also be a cross-border initiative taking place in the same region.


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