Rally Ireland's marshal recruitment drive was officially launched this week, as the countdown continues to what will be the opening round in the 2009 World Rally Championship.

With less than nine weeks to go before that event, which runs from January 29 to February 1, more than 3000 marshals and volunteers will be enrolled.

"The marshals and volunteers of Rally Ireland are vital to the success of our event," said event director John Naylor. "Their time and effort led to Rally Ireland 2007 being ranked as one of the best rallies in the Championship. For 2009 we want to raise our game again to be the best."

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Chief marshal Paul Goodman and his team meanwhile have already been busy contacting all motor clubs in their area.

"If people want to marshal at Rally Ireland 2009 they have two options," he explained. "Firstly, if they are a member of a motor club they should contact the marshal coordinator in their club.

"Or secondly, if they are not a member of a motor club, they should contact their regional coordinators who will direct them to their nearest motor club.

"We have had a lot of interest in marshalling at Rally Ireland but there is still a need for more people."

Anyone who marshals at the World Rally Championship's opening event in January will receive a copy of the event programme, a Rally Ireland beanie hat and free entry to the Service Park.

For more information go to the events official website: www.rallyireland.org