Rally fans are being asked to volunteer their services for this year’s UTV Drive Circuit of Ireland Rally which takes place this Easter weekend.
With cars expected to travel at speeds of up to 140 miles per hour, safety is the number one priority at the Rally, according to Des O’Loan, Head of manpower for this year’s event.
“Over 500 marshals are needed to help ensure the Easter weekend event is as safe as possible for drivers, spectators and people who live on the roads in the four border counties the rally will cover,” he said.
Des, who will make sure each of the 15 stages of the 74th Circuit of Ireland Rally are carefully managed by qualified and responsible volunteers, has appealed for people interested in working as marshals to register via the web site www.circuitofireland.net or call the CoI Marshal Hotline on 078 9298 4021.
He said: “The event involves high speed motorsport on narrow, bumpy roads, with the top competing cars accelerating from nought to 60 miles an hour in just over three seconds. They are really powerful machines some of which are almost as quick as Formula One cars.
“Marshals are right in the thick of the action controlling all sorts of exciting situations. In the event of an incident their job is to be on the scene as quick as possible to get the cars back on the road and keep the rally moving. Marshals also make sure the general public are able to watch the high speed event from safe vantage points
“To be a marshal you need to be over 16 and have an interest in motorsport. It really is a fantastic opportunity to get an unrivalled vantage point for what promises to be an amazing rally.”
“We need timekeepers, staff for the service area and for the stages themselves.
“There are always a lot of experienced people to take control. Each stage has a stage manager who co-ordinates what happens at each stage and a stage commander who sets up the stage and runs all the technical bits like putting up rope at road junctions and deploying their team.”
Newry man Des, who has been involved in motorsport for over 30 years and is chairman of Newry and District Motorsport added that marshals play a vital role in liaising with the people who live on the route.
“We endeavour to speak to everyone in the area affected by the rally to ensure they know what to expect. We really appreciate the cooperation everyone gives us and we make every effort to accommodate anyone who needs to get in and out of houses for important reasons safely during the rally.”
Des says the 18 mile night time stage will be a challenge for the marshals.
“We will need about 100 marshals to man the night-time stages which we expect to be extremely popular because the opportunity to watch such a long stage at night has not been available for so long.
“On the Saturday we will need about 350 people, around 60 marshals for each stage. People come from all over Ireland including Cork, Sligo, Dublin and the North Coast and they find it is a very sociable and friendly event.”
Newtownards man Andrew Frater said: “I have been marshalling at the Circuit of Ireland Rally for 23 years and it’s always a fantastic event. It’s a tremendous opportunity to be close to the action, with top drivers displaying their skill and expertise. Marshals do a very important job in helping keep the Rally as safe as possible and display great team spirit in their work.”
Now boasting IRC Supporter Event status, in a major coup for the organisers of the world’s second oldest rally, the eyes of the rallying world will be on competitors and organisers this Easter weekend, on April 3 and 4. Dundalk will see the ceremonial start on Saturday 3 April before the rally moves on to 15 stages across counties Down, Armagh, Monaghan and Louth.
Precise details surrounding the locations of each of the stages will be in the Circuit of Ireland programmes, available for purchase at local retailers from 26 March. A full list of retailers is available at www.circuitofireland.net
Fans wishing to pre-order the UTV Drive Circuit of Ireland programme on-line will be entered into a draw to win a ride in the 2010 Dakar winning VW Race Touareg, which will act as a zero car in the Rally. Spectators can view it at each stage and at the service park at Carnbane Industrial Estate in Newry.
The Circuit plays host to a number of championships including the second round of the hotly contested Citroen Irish Tarmac Rally Championship.
Sponsors of the UTV Drive Circuit of Ireland Rally 2010 include the Department of Culture Arts and Leisure, Citroen Irish Tarmac Rally Championship, Hankook, Triton Showers, Banbridge District Council, Dundalk Chamber, Newry and Mourne District Council, the Park Hotel, Dundalk, KDM Hire, The Web Bureau and Kantar Media.
Follow the latest Circuit of Ireland Rally News at www.circuitofireland.net and on Facebook.
The Circuit of Ireland
Beginning in Dundalk town centre at 11 am on Easter Saturday, 3 April, thousands are expected to descend on Dundalk to meet and greet the competitors before they set off on 15 stages across counties Armagh, Monaghan, Louth and Down.
135 competitors will begin a gruelling rally taking in some 270 miles across some of the most stunning scenery in Ireland.
This year the service park will be situated in Newry’s Carnbane Industrial Estate. On Saturday afternoon drivers will also rest in Solitude Park in Banbridge from 4pm.
An 18-mile marathon night stage will take place south of Banbridge on Saturday night.
Stages in Monaghan will take place on Sunday afternoon with the rally finishing in Newry later that day.
In 2009, Eugene Donnelly took the title in a Skoda Fabia WRC