RALLY GB TIPPED TO RE­TURN TO RO­TA­TION

Bri­tain’s wrc counter could move around the coun­try

Motor Sport News - - Rally News - By David Evans

Bri­tain’s round of the World Rally Cham­pi­onship looks set to re­turn to its no­madic roots with Rally GB tipped to move around the coun­try again from 2020.

Wales has re­newed its sup­port for the Dee­side-based event for the next three years, but Mo­tor­sport News un­der­stands the pro­moter is re­quest­ing a change of for­mat that could mean the rally ven­tures out of Wales for the first time since 1999.

Next year is the 20th suc­ces­sive sea­son the event has run out of Wales and that an­niver­sary will be cel­e­brated with a route sim­i­lar to this sea­son, but from 2020 on­wards the hope is that other re­gions will pur­sue the rally and al­low it to move around the coun­try in the way it did be­fore the move to Cardiff in 2000. Prior to the first year of Welsh Govern­ment back­ing, Bri­tain’s round of the WRC ran out of seven dif­fer­ent host cities.

Chair­man of Bri­tain’s gov­ern­ing body of mo­tor­sport David Richards con­firmed fur­ther Welsh back­ing for Rally GB.

“Wales has com­mit­ted to sup­port this event for the long term,” Richards told MN. “The Welsh Govern­ment has seen the eco­nomic ben­e­fits of the rally and they’re very sup­port­ive of the growth of the cham­pi­onship and the rally in the UK. And we’re ex­plor­ing all sorts of op­por­tu­ni­ties around that re­spect­ing all the in­vest­ment and sup­port we’ve had from Wales.”

Richards also con­firmed the po­ten­tial to base the event out­side of Wales, adding: “They’re will­ing to sup­port the event for an­other three years, but they also see that if the event has to ex­pand and go to other re­gions of the UK as part of that process, they’re will­ing to sup­port that as well – so long as we’re will­ing to come back again. It’s a win-win for ev­ery­body.”

MN un­der­stands other re­gions of the UK have al­ready been in con­tact with the event or­gan­is­ers, but no­body from Rally GB was will­ing to con­firm any such talks. Scot­land and the north of Eng­land (north-east and north­west) is ru­moured to be one pos­si­ble des­ti­na­tion, with the Scot­tish Govern­ment hav­ing an un­der­stand­ing of ral­ly­ing and the ben­e­fits of the sport fol­low­ing a three-year deal which brought the In­ter­con­ti­nen­tal Rally Chal­lenge to Perthshire and Stir­ling­shire be­tween 2009 and 2011.

Ire­land is a nearby lo­ca­tion with WRC his­tory, a cross-border event funded by both North­ern Ire­land and the Repub­lic ran out of Sligo in 2007 and 2009. More re­cently, the Cir­cuit of Ire­land was a hugely pop­u­lar round of the Eu­ro­pean Rally Cham­pi­onship as re­cently as two years ago.

One source told MN: “There’s in­ter­est in Rally GB and now there is po­ten­tial for it to move. Let’s see what hap­pens, it’s go­ing to be an in­ter­est­ing fu­ture – it’s an op­por­tu­nity to move the event far and wide.”

At­tend­ing the event in his new role for the first time, Richards was pleased with what he found – but wasted no time in look­ing for ways to move the event for­ward.

He said: “Lots of things hap­pen on an event be­cause of cir­cum­stances that weren’t in any­body’s con­trol at the time and com­pro­mises have to be made all around. You have to keep look­ing for­ward, re­fresh­ing and im­prov­ing – it’s no good look­ing back and say­ing: ‘That’s not right…’ it’s all about look­ing to the fu­ture and mak­ing sure we put the best event in the whole World Rally Cham­pi­onship on the map here in Bri­tain.

“I want to thank Wales and the Welsh Govern­ment for its com­mit­ment for the long-term and we look for­ward to a very big cel­e­bra­tion of 20 years in Wales next year. It’s vi­tal that we ac­knowl­edge that mile­stone, one that must be among the long­est stand­ing sup­port for any world cham­pi­onship rally.”

Pho­tos: mck­lein-im­age­database.com

The 2017 fin­ish in Conwy was packed

The event fin­ished in Ch­ester back in 1995

Cardiff was a reg­u­lar fin­ish for Wales Rally GB

Rally GB in 1999: Ox­ford­shire stage

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