30 Jan - 01 Feb 09
Most Recent Winner:Sebastien Loeb (2009)
Included in the WRC for the first time in 2007, this cross-border rally includes stages in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
Essentially an asphalt event, the tight and twisty roads in the Sligo Mountains and Fermanagh Lakelands are bumpy and narrow - little more than the width of a car in places - and feature many surface changes.
The more northerly stages close to the border are run on agricultural roads strewn with dirt and mud. On these, and some of the more abrasive, broken sections, a more gravel-based car set-up tends to work better than a traditional smooth asphalt specification. Choosing the best set-up for such specialised conditions is difficult but local knowledge certainly helps. And with a hugely competitive national rally scene, there is no shortage of local drivers capable of worrying the WRC regulars.
Taking Rallye Monte Carlo's traditional place as the first rally of the year, the wintry January weather is likely to present a big challenge in Ireland. Ice and snow are a distinct possibility. Even on Pirelli's winter tyres this one is going to be tough.