ITRC: Ireland's Rally of the Lakes sponsors announced

Ordnance Survey Ireland and The Gleneagle Hotel team up to support Rally of the Lakes 2003. To the delight of the officers and members of Killarney & District Motor Club, Ordnance Survey Ireland has chosen to sponsor the 2003 International Rally...

Ordnance Survey Ireland and The Gleneagle Hotel team up to support Rally of the Lakes 2003.

To the delight of the officers and members of Killarney & District Motor Club, Ordnance Survey Ireland has chosen to sponsor the 2003 International Rally of the Lakes, which will take place on the 3rd & 4th May. The Gleneagle Hotel will be an associate sponsor, and will provide the venue for the rally headquarters. The 2003 edition of the Rally of the Lakes, arguably the most famous motorsport event in Ireland, is expected to attract competitors from throughout Europe, the United Kingdom and the home country. The event was launched by the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, Mr. John O'Donoghue, TD, at a reception in Dublin this evening.

While Ordnance Survey Ireland has been associated with the Rally of the Lakes at various levels since the mid-1990s, the agency's involvement in Irish motorsport stretches back much further, one hundred years in fact. Competitors in the famous Gordon Bennett Cup race, which took place through counties Kildare, Laois and Carlow on the 2nd of July, 1903, relied on Ordnance Survey maps to follow the lengthy course. In more recent times, Ordnance Survey Ireland maps have become essential tools for everyone involved in rallying throughout the country, be they competitors, organisers or spectators.

Speaking at the launch, Mr. Richard Kirwan, CEO of Ordnance Survey Ireland, said: ''Ordnance Survey Ireland (OSi) are delighted to continue its association with the Rally of the Lakes. Our association with this event started in the 1990's and so could, tongue in cheek, be arguably suggested as spanning two centuries. In that time we have seen this event develop at a pace not dissimilar to that of Ordnance Survey Ireland. Following its establishment as a state body in March of last year, the organisation has diversified its interests and is proud to be one of the main suppliers for the 2003 Special Olympics World Games. OSi prides itself in supporting winners and wishes the 2003 Rally of the Lakes continued success with its endeavours."

Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, Mr. John O'Donoghue T.D. added, " Over the years, the Rally of the Lakes has proved immensely popular with competitors and always attracts full entries. Killarney has long been regarded as one of Ireland's premier tourist destinations. It is renowned worldwide as a setting of breathtaking beauty and for its unrivalled ability to extend the warmest of Irish welcomes to those who are privileged to visit it. I am delighted that the international rally of the lakes will take place against such a striking backdrop. Motorsport fans are amongst the most dedicated followers in the world and I know that having experienced these qualities for themselves they have been persuaded, not only to return each year, but also to become goodwill ambassadors for Kerry and for Ireland as a whole. In acting in such capacities they make a substantial contribution not only to the continued success of this important annual event, but also to the development of Irish tourism."

Others who attended the launch included reigning Toshiba Tarmac Champion Andrew Nesbitt; Shaun Gallagher, current leader of the West Euro Cup; Jan Meester, Dutch Rally Federation; Mayor of Killarney, Sheila Casey; and former winning co-driver John Brown.

Killarney's Gleneagle Hotel has been synonymous with the Rally of the Lakes since 1980, when the Gleneagle was first utilised as the event Headquarters. That arrangement that has remained constant ever since, and the link between the hotel and motorsport is set to further expand this year, when Ireland's National Events Centre (adjacent to the Gleneagle) provides the venue for the "Killarney Rally Show" , which will take place on the Friday night of the weekend of the Rally of the Lakes.

The Ordnance Survey Ireland Rally of the Lakes 2003, in association with the Gleneagle Hotel, will be a round of the Toshiba Computers Irish Tarmac Rally Championship, the West Euro Cup, the International Netherlands Rally Championship, the 023 Tiles Southern Four Rally Championship, the Ford Ireland Focus Rally Championship and the Toshiba Computers Historic Tarmac Championship.

Since the announcement of the inclusion of the Rally of the Lakes in the 2003 West Euro Cup and International Netherlands Rally Championship, a huge number of enquiries have been received from competitors based on the continent. "The interest has been phenomenal", says Mike Marshall, Clerk of the Course. "I expect that thirty or so European crews will take part in the event, and it will be very interesting to see how they measure up against the locals and other regular contenders".

The year 2003 will mark a number of firsts for the Rally of the Lakes: The event will have its own website for the first time, at www.rallyofthelakes.com. This site contains news and information regarding the rally, and it will be updated regularly over the coming weeks and throughout the rally weekend. This year's Rally of the Lakes will be the first to be timed to one tenth of a second, which should all but eliminate the possibility of two crews setting equal times on any one special stage. Finally, it will be possible for competitors to pay their entry fee by credit card for the first time in 2003, a measure which should prove especially convenient for overseas crews.

-k&dmc-

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