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Rally GB settles Wales dispute

This year's Rally Great Britain will be launched in Cardiff next Wednesday, with the event expected to have come to a settlement with the Welsh Assembly Government.

Rally GB organisers and the WAG have been locked in dispute since the start of the year, following the WAG's decision to terminate the sponsorship agreement which should have run until the end of 2011.

It is believed that a series of meetings at the end of last week have brought compromise, allowing this year's event to finally be launched, three months later than originally planned.

Next year is almost certain to be the final time Rally GB will run out of Welsh capital, where it has been located since 2000. The early exit from the Rally GB-WAG contract is said to include an option, on the rally organiser's part, to return to Wales in 2010 and 2011 should a suitable replacement for Cardiff not be found. The financial package on offer from the WAG should that option be taken up would be decided on market forces at the time.

Ironically, Rally GB was recently cemented into the 2010 World Rally Championship calendar - its early omission due to a proposed rotational policy was the reason WAG took the decision to end the contract early.

It is now widely expected that Rally GB will shift to Newcastle for its November 2010 date, meaning the world's finest rally drivers will return to the Kielder forest for the first time since 1995.

Rally GB chief executive Andrew Coe said: "We expect to make an announcement later this week, but at the moment I can't comment as discussions [with WAG] are on-going."

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