York, Harrogate, Chester, Cheltenham and Carlisle - all in England - have been suggested as alternative bases for Rally GB [Jan 27], according to today's Motorsport News. The event remains provisional on the 2004 World Rally Championship calendar pending an MSA report to the FIA on the suitability of its location in Wales. The Welsh Development Agency and the Welsh Assembly assumed the title sponsorship of the rally in 2003 in a four-year deal.
In compiling its report, the MSA (Britain's ASN) has been consulting with the South Wales police force, which controversially deployed additional speed cameras before the 2002 event, and later issued speeding fines to several competitors.
FIA president Max Mosley said during the Monte Carlo Rally last weekend that there was a possibility that the event may have to be relocated in order for the Rally GB to remain on the WRC schedule. Mosley said: "The impression that has been made on the international rally community was very negative and gave the impression that the police in Wales didn't want the rally to be there, that they were doing everything they could to make the competitors feel unwelcome and uncomfortable.
"There are other places in the UK where this sort of thing wouldn't happen. One would imagine that the rally could be held somewhere where the attitude of the local police is different."