A little bit of the X Factor will be brought to Lisburn next month for the start of this year’s Circuit of Ireland Rally.
The city centre will host the ceremonial opening of the race on Thursday April 7 and joining the ceremonial festivities will be special guest of honour and former X Factor judge Louis Walsh.
Up to 80 cars and drivers from the International section of the rally will converge around the Irish Linen Centre and Museum in Market Square from 6.30pm.
The Ceremonial Start follows the Qualifying Stage in Antrim and marks the launch of two days of competitive rallying throughout stages in counties Antrim and Down.
Rally cars will be flagged off from the ceremonial starting ramp in reverse order whilst the 15 top fastest crews from the earlier qualifying stage will select their starting position during the evening, ready for the first competitive stages on Friday morning, 8th April.
Selecting starting positions is a key element of the Ceremonial Start with drivers finalising their choices based on a combination of weather conditions, rally experience and ultimately bravery.
Special guest Louis Walsh will be joined by Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council Mayor, Councillor Thomas Beckett.
Visitors and rally fans will have the opportunity to meet and chat to international rally drivers and co-drivers and VIP guest Louis Walsh will also be on hand to meet and greet spectators and visitors.
The Ceremonial Start festival finishes with a special free concert with celebrated Queen tribute band, Flash Harry.
The renowned local rock band will take to the stage from 8.30pm against the backdrop of the Irish Linen Centre.
Circuit Event Director Bobby Willis said: “The Circuit has enjoyed amazing support from Councillors and staff at Lisburn & and Castlereagh City Council and we’re thrilled to bring a brand new dimension to the City in the form of our impressive Ceremonial Opening.
“Being able to bring along star personality Louis Walsh combined with a full blown concert performance by Flash Harry will make it an evening to remember in Lisburn City Centre.”
For more information on the weekend’s racing, you can visit the website at www.circuitofireland.net.