Town revs up to host the Circuit of Ireland


‘The Cut’ in the heart of Banbridge will host a special rally ‘regroup’ on Easter Saturday (4th April) as part of the Discover Northern Ireland Circuit of Ireland Rally this weekend (2-4 April).

Shoppers and visitors will have the chance to see rally drivers from 20 different countries as they break from the gruelling two day rally, which is round three of the FIA European Rally Championship.

The first car will arrive at the Banbridge regroup at 16:27.

To mark the visit of the famous ‘Circuit’ to the town, Banbridge District Council has planned a festival of family fun activities on Easter Saturday including stilt walkers, jugglers, samba dancers and rally themed performers.

World famous actor Idris Elba, who played Nelson Mandela in the film Mandela – Long Walk to Freedom, is competing in the Saturday element of the rally as part of a new Discovery TV series. The Luther and The Wire actor will take to the roads as number 72 .

The Banbridge region features one of the longest stages in the Circuit named McGaffin’s Corner, measuring 26 km and located between Banbridge and Newry.

Anticipated to be one of the most challenging stages of the two day event, McGaffin’s Corner boasts everything drivers and spectators could wish for.

Event Director Bobby Willis explained, “If it’s wet weather it’s likely to be slippery and that’s something crews should keep in mind as they prepare for this fantastic stage which will be run twice on Saturday – from 10:00 when the first car is due through the start and in the afternoon from 15:27.

“The other Banbridge stage is located north west of the town and extends over 8.7 km and cars will again compete on this stage twice – at 11:09 and 16:55

Competitors leading the charge from the Banbridge area in the ‘National’ section of the rally include number three seed and well known Circuit of Ireland driver Kenny McKinstry as well as 8th seed David Armstrong and, Norman Savage and his co-driver Chris Nelson -all from Banbridge.

Dromore drivers Jonny Cargo and Kyle Orr will also be competing in the Circuit of Ireland National Rally. Jonny Cargo’s co driver Mo Downey is also a local man hailing from Scarva as does Robbie Harold who co-drives from Ballykinlar man JT Warnock.

Co-driver Sean Topping is also from Banbridge and drives with Belfast man Kyle White.