STOP PRESS: Radio spoke exclusively to ANDREW COE on Tuesday to get some details on today's announcement that Scotland will join the IRC in 2009. TO HEAR THE INTERVIEW IN FULL: CLICK HERE.

Scotland will stage the final round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge next year, it has been confirmed.

The announcement about the event secured by EventScotland - the national events agency working in partnership with Stirling and Perth and Kinross Councils, was made by the First Minister today [Tuesday]. It will run from November 19-21 2009 and will form the centrepiece within the 'Homecoming Scotland 2009' celebrations.

"Scotland's reputation for leading innovation and setting new standards in the motor sport industry makes it an ideal location for the Intercontinental Rally Challenge final," said the Rt Hon Alex Salmond MSP, the First Minister of Scotland.

"The event will be made even more special as it will be one of the signature events in our Homecoming programme. For 2009 we are inviting Scotland's friends and family to return home to celebrate our strengths and culture.

"Today that invitation is being extended to the countless rally fans and enthusiasts around the world. With dramatic landscapes, warm hospitality and fierce competition - I hope that many will answer the Homecoming rally call."

The Intercontinental Rally Challenge started in 2006 as a new rally series, carrying the endorsement of the FIA and is closely based on production cars, with 2 litre, normally aspirated engines. This format is designed to attract more manufacturers to the sport and is now supported by Fiat, Honda, Mitsubishi, Peugeot and Volkswagen.

The international-status event, which will be known as the RAC MSA International Rally of Scotland, will be decided by three days of competitive driving over timed special stages on closed Forestry Commission Scotland gravel roads in Stirling and Perth and Kinross and will include a ceremonial start, service stop and high profile village featuring additional activity for the many thousands of spectators expected.

"Today's announcement is fantastic news for Scotland and demonstrates yet again our nation's credentials as the perfect stage for major international events," added Paul Bush, chief operating officer of EventScotland, the national events agency. "Scotland hasn't hosted a rally of this stature for 20 years and staging the final round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge provides an opportunity to further enhance Scotland's reputation within the motor sport industry."

Eurosport is the global promoter of the IRC series and will be showing live footage, as well as highlight programmes, through their international network. The event will attract around 8.5 hours coverage in total, with 1.5 hours of this being live. The broadcast will showcase Scotland's natural assets, with the route taking in some of the most stunning scenery Scotland has to offer.

"We are delighted that Scotland will provide the Intercontinental Rally Challenge with its finale in 2009," stated G?raldine Filiol, managing director of Eurosport Events, global promoter of the IRC Series. "Next year the IRC will have an exciting blend of the old and the new. The season is all set to start in January with the closed mountain road stages of the world famous Monte Carlo Rally and conclude - with its newest event - in the challenging forests of Scotland.

"The inclusion of this prestigious event on the IRC calendar is the latest chapter in the continuous development of the series, as we all look forward to the promise of another exciting season in 2009."

In addition to significant TV and media exposure, organisers anticipate that spectator numbers for the Scottish event will grow in excess of 100,000 as the event becomes more established.

"On behalf of IMS and our parent company the Royal Automobile Club Motor Sports Association, we are thrilled to have secured this new event for Scotland alongside our partners EventScotland and Eurosport, as well as our colleagues in Stirling and Perth and Kinross Councils," summed up Andrew Coe, CEO of event organiser and promoter International Motor Sports.

"Our hard work to deliver a world-class event which Scotland can be truly proud of is about to begin and we look forward to working closely with all of the agencies involved in hosting an event of this magnitude. In particular, we are very excited about engaging with the strong network of Scottish motor clubs and army of marshals and volunteers, without whose expertise and experience events of this nature would not be possible."

STOP PRESS: Radio spoke exclusively to ANDREW COE on Tuesday to get some details on today's announcement that Scotland will join the IRC in 2009. TO HEAR THE INTERVIEW IN FULL: CLICK HERE.



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