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Circuit of Ireland will be send-off fit for King's

By Sammy Hamill

Published 16/01/2016

Gearing up: driver Jonny Greer and Circuit director Bobby Willis
Gearing up: driver Jonny Greer and Circuit director Bobby Willis

The King's Hall, venue for so many great Belfast sporting and music occasions, will reverberate to a different beat this year.

It is to host the Circuit of Ireland Rally, one final event at the iconic Balmoral site before it undergoes re-development.

Famous for its big fight nights, pop concerts including the Beatles in 1964 and agricultural shows, the King's Hall has been chosen as the hub for the European Championship rally after two years at Titanic Quarter.

Explaining the move, event director Bobby Willis said: "Belfast city is a key part of the Circuit and it was important to identify a new top quality location to house our Rally Office and Village, Service Park and Media Centre and one which has easy access to all stage routes across Antrim and Down.

"Titanic has been a fantastic site, but with further development work and new infrastructure at Titanic Quarter, it was necessary to move location to acquire the space and accommodation needed for the 1,000-plus competitors and team personnel.

"We've enjoyed our partnership with Titanic Quarter. I would like to thank them for their support, but equally the Circuit team is looking forward to utilising a new venue, especially one with a historic connection to the Circuit of Ireland.

"The King's Hall hosted the start of the 1971 rally when Adrian Boyd and Beatty Crawford were the winners in their Ford Escort. I'm sure this year it will be a fitting last hurrah for this much loved art deco building."

Willis also paid tribute to Circuit partner Belfast City Council who alongside Tourism NI, Tourism Ireland and the majority of NI regional councils, provides significant support for the Circuit which last year attracted almost 79,000 visitors to Northern Ireland.

As well as being round three of the Eurosport-supported ERC series, the April 7-9 rally continues to be part of the Irish Tarmac and Northern Ireland championships and this year re-joins the British championship for the first time since 1991.

Belfast Telegraph

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