FIA Celtic Rally Trophy expands for 2017
United Kingdom and Ireland rally drivers will chase the FIA Celtic Rally Trophy title over an expanded calendar this year.
The Trophy, part of the FIA European Rally Trophy, has added two new events as it enters its second year, with six rounds offering points scoring opportunities.
The moves create a better balance between the two sides of the Irish Sea, with four events from the Irish Tarmac Championship included, and three counters from the British Rally Championship.
As in 2016, the Trophy begins with the Quality Hotel West Cork International Rally, a hugely popular event on the calendar, not least because it takes place over the St Patrick’s Day holiday weekend of 18th & 19th March.
From there the series heads to its only mainland UK fixture, the Pirelli International Rally at the end of April (29th-30th). The event comes into the calendar for the first time, bringing with it a change of surface to gravel over the daunting forest tracks of the Kielder complex, renowned throughout the sport.
A return to the Emerald isle in mid-June (16th–18th) can only mean it’s the Joule Donegal International Rally. One of two three-day events on the list makes this a big enough challenge, all played out before the biggest spectator galleries of the year.
A hop across the border to Derry brings us to the John Mulholland Motors Ulster Rally, August 18th-19th. The event is a counter in both the Irish and British Championships, guaranteeing a strong entry in both quality and quantity.
The 138.com Rally Isle of Man follows from September 14th-16th. The event is the final round of the British title chase and is the ultimate test of high-speed asphalt rallying over three days, with two night time legs included.
The sixth and final encounter is also new to the calendar, the Cork 20 International Rally (30th September-1st October). It is the final set-piece of the Irish Championship, so there will be plenty to be settled!
FIA Celtic Rally Trophy Co-ordinator Mike Broad says the events each offer a unique challenge. “They are some of the most well regarded rallies anywhere, and with the strength in depth on both sides of the Irish Sea it will be fascinating to see who follows Keith Cronin to the title!”