Cumbria’s biggest, and possibly it’s longest running, motorsport event will have added status for 2017 for not only has the Pirelli International Rally regained it’s full International status but it has also been elevated to be a round of the FIA Celtic Rally Trophy, part of the FIA European Rally Championship, where it will join events from Ulster, Ireland and the Isle of Man as the only English round of the series. The FIA Celtic Rally Trophy will open the event to a whole new spectrum of drivers, previously the series has concentrated on tarmac based events so the Pirelli International Rally offers the opportunity for competitors in that series to sample a gravel event, the results should certainly be interesting. The Pirelli International Rally will also be the second round of the Prestone MSA British Rally Championship, the event having been an ever present in the premier British rally series since it’s inception and, indeed, the organising Cumberland Sporting Car Club have, on several occasions, scooped the award for the championship’s best organised round, just reward for the enthusiastic, all-amateur team behind the event. The organisers are looking forward to welcoming all the top drivers back to Carlisle and are currently hard at work putting together what is sure to be another top grade event. The rally is also a round of the Mintex MSA British Historic Rally Championship, the SG Petch/ANECCC Stage Championship and the Motoscope Northern Historic Championship. The Pirelli International Rally will again be based in Carlisle with the rally headquarters located at the H & H Borderway Auction Mart, just off the M6 motorway. This will also be the venue for the rallies main service area which, during the event, becomes a hive of activity with the teams of mechanics refurbishing the cars after the rigours of some flat out driving on the forest stages. The rallies 90 plus miles of special stages are all located in the giant Kielder Forest complex which will see some fast and furious action over the two days of the event. The Pirelli International Rally brings a huge bonus to Carlisle’s hotel and catering trade with over £1 million pounds pumped into the local economy as every hotel bed is snapped up and cafes, restaurants and filling stations all do a roaring trade.