Circuit of Ireland fever will hit Newtownards once again on Friday April 8 when thousands of spectators are expected to line the streets to watch 140 rally cars sweep through the town for the Ards TT leg of the 85th Circuit of Ireland Rally.
The Ards leg which was a key element of last year’s rally, attracted a record 25,000 people onto the streets of Newtownards, and Circuit organisers alongside hosts, Ards and North Down Borough Council, very much hope to repeat its success once again this year.
Speaking about the event The Mayor of Ards and North Down, Alderman Alan Graham said:
“We are delighted to host a leg of the 2016 Circuit of Ireland and be part of this prestigious and exciting motorsport event. We’re very much looking forward to seeing some of Europe’s top drivers compete in the 3-day spectacle of racing which will showcase Northern Ireland to a huge audience.”
The Ards route will cover 2.3 kilometres and the 2 and a quarter laps will start at the Old Cross/High Street Junction then the route will follow Mill Street, Regent Street, Francis Street, Castle Place, High Street and finish at Conway Square. The race starts at 7.30pm but road closures will be in place on the route only from 5.30pm to 11.30pm. Special crossing points will open for 3 minutes every 15 minutes to facilitate spectator movement.
To mark the occasion, Conway Square, will play host to live music and children’s activities which should provide a great atmosphere for spectators and their families. Enjoy the Eddie Irvine experience with fun simulators, come and make your own car with specially-themed children’s crafts and enjoy the Ards Guitar Festival with live music provided by Los Dramaticos and Emerald Armada. This event runs from 5.30pm to 7.30pm.Tap to unmute
Last year over 78,000 people came to view the stunning stages across counties Antrim and Down and organisers anticipate the three-day festival will this year attract over 80,000 visitors and spectators from countries worldwide. The event will be broadcast on Discovery, Eurosport and global partners, BT Sport, Channel 4 and Irish networks to over 40 million viewers across the world.
Rally fans will have several opportunities to see the action from Thursday 7th to Saturday 9th April. The Qualifying Stage of the rally will be based at Antrim Castle Gardens on Thursday 7th April, followed by a ceremonial start outside the Irish Linen Centre and Lisburn Museum that evening.
Friday 8th April features rural stages close to Larne and Ballymena and includes a refuel halt at the famous Ballymena Showgrounds. Friday’s route includes stages encompassing Torr Head and Glendun as well as a passage control at the Dark Hedges and a regroup at Bushmills Distillery, with the special Ards TT Stage taking place on the Friday night.
Saturday will include stages close to Banbridge, Ballynahinch and Dromore with town centre regroups in Downpatrick and Banbridge. The rally will finish back in Belfast on the Saturday evening April 9th and will culminate in a special closing ceremony outside Queen’s University when the 2016 winners will be presented with the famous Circuit of Ireland trophy.