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Ireland WRC bid hinges on funding after event concept approval

The Republic of Ireland’s bid to join the World Rally Championship next year hinges on securing the required funding after the championship approved Motorsport Ireland’s rally concept.

Sebastien Loeb (FRA) on stage 19.

Sutton Images

Ireland is vying to secure a three-year contract to host the WRC, beginning from 2025, which aims to bring the championship back to the country for the first time since 2009.

Motorsport Ireland announced in January that it plans to rotate the rally through three locations; Waterford, Kerry and Limerick, across the three-year deal, should it secure the contract.

WRC Promoter’s event director Simon Larkin met with Motorsport Ireland president Aidan Harper in Dublin last week, prior to Rally Sweden, to discuss the plans for the proposed rally.

Larkin admitted that a rotational rally hub is unusual for WRC events but was convinced by the concept being pitched. 

“It’s a concept we’re not normally in favour of because these events are quite complicated, so to move from one region to the other year after year is an additional complexity,” Larkin told Autosport.

“We’re being convinced that we think this is the way to go. We think we can make it a really good national event.

“The fact that this one country has three amazingly prepared, ready, resourced and experienced regions to run a WRC event is a compliment to rallying in Ireland and it makes it more exciting for us.

“We think it would be a fantastic event. We met with the board. There’s an entity that’s being set up by Motorsport Ireland to essentially run the event, that’s at arm’s length from ASN Itself.

Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN) Stobart Ford Focus WRC on Stage 19.

Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN) Stobart Ford Focus WRC on Stage 19.

Photo by: Sutton Images

“They’ve got five members and myself, so we met with the three regions and we evaluated all of the opportunities and we hope to make a quick decision on what order the three events would run. And that will then be notified to them it hasn’t yet.

“It’s a decision that ourselves and that board want to make clearly, strategically and reasonably transparently. That will happen soon and now this is all subject to government funding.”

The event’s future now hinges on securing 15 million euros from the Irish government with an announcement anticipated to arrive next month. Should Ireland receive the green light, it is likely to join an expanded 14-event WRC calendar next year.

“Everything has gone through all the due diligence and so forth from the Ministry of Sport and the other relevant ministries within the government,” Larkin added.

“Now it’s essentially up to the cabinet (Taoiseach) and that is a process that is now ongoing, and we hope during March to have an announcement or not. We’re positive the right political moves have been made, but until it’s done it’s not done.”

Ireland is in the running to join the 2025 calendar alongside Saudi Arabia and potentially Paraguay.

Plans to revive Rally GB have also progressed with the WRC meeting with Motorsport UK in Sweden to begin early discussions about a potential bid to bring the championship to Scotland from 2026.

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