HISTORIC RALLYING CRISIS
Huge fee increase in Wales puts rallies in jeopardy
The future of historic rallying in Wales is in doubt after the Government body that administers the Welsh forests increased fees by 90%.
‘That’s going to kill it [the sport] stone dead in Wales,’ says Historic Rally Car Register (HRCR) chairman Paul Loveridge. ‘We’re paying around £650 per mile for first usage now, and that will almost double – which will be passed on to the competitors. So an entry fee that is perilously close to £500 now would go up to £750 or so. People will cut down the number of events they do in Wales.’
National Resources Wales (NRW) – the Welsh Government body in charge of the forests – says the increase is to cover the damage done by rally cars, both modern and historic. It claims that in 2015 rallying caused £655,000 worth of damage, while it was paid £339,000 in fees.
These figures are disputed by rally experts, and seem out of kilter with the 0.7% annual increase agreed by the equivalent forest authorities in England and Wales.
Besides the price increase, another problem is the timescale. NRW says the new fees will come into place on 1 June, giving rally organisers precious little time to set up new price structures and communicate with competitors.
‘I feel desperately sorry for the clubs who are putting these event on who may have committed to venues and personnel and have taken entries, and now they really don’t know what’s going on,’ says Paul. ‘They’re in an awful position.’
A Ford Escort MkI RS1600 entertains the crowds at last year’s National Rally of Wales. A 90% fee increase by Welsh authorities will put off many entrants according to experts.