British rally fans will soon have a choice of local events to visit, after Ireland won a place on the calendar for the 2007/2008 season.
Rally Ireland will play host to stars like Sebastien Loeb, Marcus Gronholm and Petter Solberg on November 16-18 2007. The event had to undergo inspection by WRC officials on two occasions, but its blend of asphalt roads in both Northern and Southern Ireland won approval. It will team up with Rally GB in the line-up of events which also includes a new rally in Norway and the return of Portugal. Cyprus, Turkey and Australia have been dropped from the calendar.
Max Mosley, boss of motorsport's governing body the FIA, congratulated the Irish event. “We are pleased to welcome Ireland to the FIA World Rally Championship," he said. "Your team worked hard in their bid and set very high standards. Rally Ireland will bring many new and unique features to the championship including being the first round to run competitive stages cross border.”
Rallying is Ireland's main motorsport; over 60 World Rally Cars are used by privateer competitors on the island, and its larger events attract over 200,000 spectators.