One of the biggest and most prestigious sporting events ever to be held in this region will happen this weekend when a stage of the World Rally Championship visits the North West, taking in counties Donegal, Fermanagh, Leitrim, Cavan and Roscommon over three days – starting with a show stage at Stormont Castle on Thursday evening and continuing on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The rally will be in the North Roscommon and South Leitrim areas on Friday and Saturday and there are several special events on in the Boyle are at the weekend to coincide with the huge influx of people. The size of the event is underlined by the fact that it is expected that up to 200,000 people will watch the various stages live. The event will be broadcast live on TV in 46 countries, with highlights packages being shown in 150 more. It is estimated that over 800 million people will watch the event over the weekend. Over 2,000 stewards will be needed to police the event and traffic disruption will be experienced in all areas where the rally is going on over the weekend. The situation in the championship is that Finnish driver Marcus Gronholm can actually clinch the championship this weekend – but he must win here to do so. He leads the championship by four points from Swede Sebastian Loeb. The event starts with a show stage at Stormont Castle in Belfast on Thursday evening but the real action will take place on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. See also page 15.