Belfast Telegraph

High five as Circuit's European date is set

By Sammy Hamill

The Circuit of Ireland will be round five of next year's European Rally Championship.

Even though the inclusion of the Circuit was announced two weeks ago, confirmation of the full calendar for the re-vamped 12-round Euro series has finally come from the FIA and it shows that two recent World championship rallies, the Acropolis and the Tour de Corse, are part of the schedule.

Indeed, the April 17-19 Irish round will follow less than three weeks after the iconic Greek event, which was a surprise omission from next year's World Championship.

Promoted by the satellite TV broadcaster Eurosport, the 2014 ERC series will start in Austria in early January and finish in Corsica in November with the Tour de Corse after visits to such diverse places as Romania and the Azores, Latvia and Switzerland.

Announcing the schedule, Eurosport Events director Francois Ribeiro said: "We have worked on this calendar for many months with the objective of creating a programme of events that offers a wide variety of surfaces and terrain spread over the season.

"We've also ensured a good mix of established and emerging rallies, plus hallmark events, such as the Acropolis, Circuit of Ireland, Tour de Corse and the Cyprus Rally.

"The Circuit of Ireland is the third oldest rally in the world and its forward-thinking organisers have exciting plans for 2014."

Skoda's Jan Kopecky is this year's European champion with Craig Breen finishing in third place.

The 24-year-old Irish driver will continue in the series next year with the Peugeot Academy team alongside Dutchman Kevin Abbring.

2014 European rally championship dates: Jan 3/5 Jännerrallye (Austria), Jan 31/Feb 2 Rally Liepaja (Latvia), Feb 27/Mar 1 Sibiu Rally Romania, Mar 28/30 Acropolis Rally (Greece), Apr 17/19 Circuit of Ireland Rally. May 15/17 Rallye Azores (Portugal), June 19/20 Ypres Rally (Belgium), Jul 17/19 Rally Estonia, Aug 29/31 Barum Rally Zlín (Czech Republic), Sep 19/21 Cyprus Rally, Oct 23/25 Rallye International du Valais (Switzerland), Nov 6/8 Tour de Corse (France).

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