The inaugural RACMSA Rally of Scotland was treated to an all-star launch event in Glasgow last week, with three-time Formula One world champion Sir Jackie Stewart leading the way towards this year's IRC grand finale.

Sir Jackie declared Scotland to be the 'best-kept secret in world travel' and was upbeat about the positive effect the event would have on trade and tourism.

"I think the importance of the Rally of Scotland is clear because the Scottish parliament has put its backing behind the event," he said. "I'm looking forward to watching the action in Stirling alongside our First Minister, Alex Salmond. We can project ourselves as Scots and as a tourism and business destination in a better way through sport and through the RACMSA Rally of Scotland.

"Scotland has an amazing heritage when it comes to motor sport - and rallying in particular. Traditionally the RAC Rally was one of the biggest in the world and it went through England and Wales but it was Scotland that was the largest part, with probably the best special stages anywhere in the world.

"We've had world class rally drivers such as Andrew Cowan, Jimmy McRae and his sons Colin and Alister as well as great teams and great circuit racing drivers, so it is entirely fitting for Scotland to join the likes of Monte Carlo and Sanremo on the IRC calendar."

IRC series coordinator Xavier Gavory said he was delighted to see the series heading to Scotland for the first time.

"It is a great privilege for the IRC, in only its third full season, to start out in Monte Carlo back in January and to end the year on these legendary Scottish stages," he said. "This is the ideal event for our premier TV package, with four stages being broadcast live in their entirety."