Leaving Wales "key" to Rally GB's WRC future

Wales Rally GB should make a short-term move to Northern Ireland for 2020 and then rotate around Britain to safeguard its World Rally Championship future, says the WRC Promoter.

Leaving Wales "key" to Rally GB's WRC future

The 2020 calendar will be discussed at Friday's meeting of the WRC Commission in Geneva.

Corsica and Germany are expected to drop off the calendar to make way for returns to Japan and Kenya, putting more pressure on European events to earn the right to be on the calendar.

For Rally GB to retain one of those slots, the WRC Promoter favours a move to Northern Ireland next season, followed by a process of rotating Britain's premier rally around UK regions.

WRC Promoter's Oliver Ciesla told Motorsport.com: "Britain is one of the big markets where we would definitely like to be with the WRC. There's a huge fanbase and lots of tradition.

"But we are running this event not in the heart of the country where the fans are.

"We have been pushing for change and we are hopeful this can be achieved in the next year already."

There has been growing speculation of a possible switch to Belfast for next season and Ciesla said such a move would be vital for the rally's future at the sport's highest level.

He added: "Is a move to Northern Ireland key to GB's future? Yes. I would say it is key.

"If you look in the long-term perspective, I do not see a long-term calendar where we continue to go to Wales again and again.

"Northern Ireland is of interest [to the WRC]. I don't want to say this is necessarily a long-term plan, but to go for a while or once could be an interesting variation for Rally GB.

"Maybe [there is] a model inside the UK moving from one location to another; it's an idea that's been circulated recently and it is very appealing to us.

"It would deliver on the notion to bring as much change and entertainment and to reach out to many destinations to keep this passion for rallying alive in many locations."

A WRC event ran in the Republic of Ireland in the late 2000s, but Northern Ireland's only major international event has been the Circuit of Ireland, which was part of the European Rally Championship between 2014-16, but hasn't run since then over funding issues.

Rally GB clerk of the course Iain Campbell told Motorsport.com that talks for a potential move to Northern Ireland have already started.

"Motorsport UK [British governing body, formally MSA] has been working with the Welsh Assembly, the WRC Promoter and the devolved governments of Northern Ireland and Scotland about securing the long-term future for [the] WRC in the United Kingdom for some time now," Campbell said.

"The whole of the county offers the opportunity of providing a superb backdrop to the best rallying action in the world - through the special stages, the unique heritage and the passionate rally fans no matter where it is based.

"Our focus just now is on delivering an exciting challenge in October '19, encompassing new stages and a new rally base right in the heart of Llandudno."

Armindo Araujo and Miguel Ramalho, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX, Rally Ireland

Armindo Araujo and Miguel Ramalho, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX, Rally Ireland

Photo by: AIFA

shares
comments
Neuville: Huge Chile crash won't slow me down in Portugal

Previous article

Neuville: Huge Chile crash won't slow me down in Portugal

Next article

Loeb to replace Mikkelsen at Hyundai in Portugal

Loeb to replace Mikkelsen at Hyundai in Portugal
Load comments

About this article

Series WRC
Author David Evans
Why WRC's hybrid path could leave it at a crossroads Prime

Why WRC's hybrid path could leave it at a crossroads

With all three major manufacturers committing to the World Rally Championship’s hybrid era from 2022, the future of the series is assured for now, but it could lead to trickier twists and turns further down the road

WRC
Apr 1, 2021
How Tanak froze out the competition at the Arctic Rally Prime

How Tanak froze out the competition at the Arctic Rally

Ott Tanak made up for a disastrous Monte Carlo Rally by leading all the way on the snow-kissed stages of the Arctic Rally Finland and in the process hit back at an event Toyota had been expected to dominate…

WRC
Mar 1, 2021
What to look out for in the 2021 WRC Prime

What to look out for in the 2021 WRC

As the 2021 World Rally Championship prepares to launch amid tight COVID-19 restrictions in Monte Carlo, here are the eight things unrelated to the pandemic that you should keep an eye on this year

WRC
Jan 21, 2021
Evans on the talking points of WRC 2021 Prime

Evans on the talking points of WRC 2021

He came close to the title last year, and now Toyota's Elfyn Evans gives his verdict on what to expect from 2021 as the World Rally Championship prepares to reconvene for the Monte Carlo season opener.

WRC
Jan 20, 2021
Why Britain's continued WRC absence is a wake-up call Prime

Why Britain's continued WRC absence is a wake-up call

With Rally GB dropping off the World Rally Championship calendar for the second year in a row, one of Britain's best-attended sporting events faces an uncertain future. It's an unfortunate situation that points to troubling times ahead

WRC
Jan 12, 2021
The Top 10 WRC drivers of 2020 Prime

The Top 10 WRC drivers of 2020

A drastically-shortened 2020 season gave the World Rally Championship protagonists precious little stage mileage to strut their stuff, but as ever the cream rose to the top across the seven events. We rank the year's best performers

WRC
Jan 4, 2021
The twists and turns of a turbulent 2020 WRC season Prime

The twists and turns of a turbulent 2020 WRC season

The 2020 World Rally Championship bestrode all 12 months of the Gregorian calendar, and in terms of the competition it was a cracker. Moreover, it was an inspiration in dark days for the world and our industry.

WRC
Jan 1, 2021
The early setbacks that shaped the WRC's greatest driver Loeb Prime

The early setbacks that shaped the WRC's greatest driver Loeb

A series of close calls in his formative years threatened to leave rallying's top echelon tantalisingly out of reach for the man who would go on to claim nine WRC titles. In an exclusive interview, Sebastien Loeb recalls the key steps on his road to dominance.

WRC
Dec 11, 2020