Circuit of Ireland organisers have named Belfast as a key host of the 2014 Circuit of Ireland Rally with the ceremonial start and finish of the rally taking place in the city.

The Rally HQ and Service Park will be located in Belfast's Titanic Quarter, welcoming over 1000 competitors and team personnel over a four- day period next Easter.

The first tarmac rally on the two-strong European Rally Championship calendar, the Circuit of Ireland gets into gear on Thursday 17 April with a ceremonial start in central Belfast.

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The two-day rally then kicks off on Friday 18 April with the course set to cover more than 230 competitive kilometres taking in stages in Belfast and counties Down and Antrim. The rally will finish back in Belfast on Saturday evening.

"It's fantastic to welcome another high profile sporting event to the city," Lord Mayor Councillor M?irt?n ? Muilleoir said. "Belfast is continuing to grow in stature as one of the world's premier sporting venues. We hosted the World Police and Fire Games in the summer of 2013 attracting visitors from all corners of the globe.

"With the circuit of Ireland on its way as well as the Giro d'Italia, 2014 looks set to be another bumper year for sport and attracting increased tourism to Belfast."

Circuit of Ireland Event Director Bobby Willis was pleased with the announcement.

"There are very few rallies in the world that get the opportunity to base themselves in a capital city," he said. "The support and interest from Belfast has been overwhelming. The event will generate major economic and tourism benefits for the city, both in terms of visitor numbers and in positive television images, which will be broadcast around the world through Eurosport.

"The Circuit of Ireland has been hailed as a 'flagship event' among the 12 rallies of the European Rally Championship so I'm sure Belfast is set to feature as a highlight in this top international series."