World watching as World Rally Championship comes to North Roscommon

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 Grondholm 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.    On Friday, Stages 2 and 5 will take place, as follows: Geevagh area at 8.05 am and 11.29 am. Stages 3 and 6, Arigna area at 8.33 am and 11.57 am. Stages 4 and 7 in the Lough Gill area at 9.24 am and 12.48 pm. Stage 8 at Glenboy at 3.01 pm, Stage 9 at Belcroy at 3.54 pm and Stage 10 at Drumshanbo at 4.19 pm.   It is expected that there will be plenty  of parking at Arigna except in the village itself and the advice in all cases is to arrive early. For the Lough Gill stage there will be parking restrictions in Dromahair. In all cases watch for the no parking signs. Vehicles parking illegally will be towed away.   On Saturday, Stages 11 and 16 will be in the Slaughan Glen area at 8.13 am and 2.04 pm. Stages 12 and 15 will be held at Ballinamallard at 9.08 am and 2.59 pm. Stages 13 and 16 will be held at Tempo at 9.51 am and 3.42 pm.   On Sunday, Stages 17 will be held as Murley at 9.03 am Stage 18 at Fardross at 9.51 am and Stage 19 at Donegal Bay at 11.39 am and Stage 20 at Mullaghmore at 1.08 pm. Spectators are advised to arrive early in all cases. People are asked to obey the stewards and the public are reminded that a certain amount of walking may be required to get to a good vantage point.   There has been a special Rally Committee set up in Boyle and there are a number of events being held on Friday evening. There will be rally cars on show, special Christmas Markets, a big screen to show highlights of the rally, rally simulators a display of rally and vintage cars. Information on such events from Una Bhain Tourism Co-Op (071-9663033).   RTE TV will broadcast live from the town as will TV stations from all over the world and every bed in the entire region has reportedly been booked out Friday and Saturday night!