RALLY GB TIPPED TO RETURN TO ROTATION
Britain’s wrc counter could move around the country
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.”
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