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Motorsport Ireland reveals “progressive step” to revive WRC bid

Plans bring the World Rally Championship back to Ireland in 2026 have made progress following constructive discussions with the Irish government and WRC Promoter, according to Motorsport Ireland.

Petter Solberg, Subaru WRT Impreza WRC

Ireland tabled a bid to secure a three-year contract to host the WRC from next year before it was halted in April after failing to obtain the required government funding.

The WRC Promoter had approved plans to bring the championship back to the island nation for the first time since 2009, if the required funding was secured. Motorsport Ireland had asked for €15 million from the Irish government to spread across the three-year contract, which it failed to secure within the required timeframe.

Motorsport Ireland estimated that the rally would generate €300 million for the local economy as it planned to rotate the rally through three locations – Waterford, Kerry and Limerick – across the proposed three-year deal.

Since April’s confirmation that funding wouldn’t be granted, Motorsport Ireland has confirmed that talks between the government and the WRC Promoter have continued as it hopes to bring the WRC to Ireland in 2026.

“Motorsport Ireland can today announce that it will continue to engage with Minister Thomas Byrne and the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media for the return of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) to Ireland,” read the statement.

“This follows recent negotiations with the WRC Promoter that mean that there remains the opportunity for hosting the WRC from 2026.

“In order to assess the viability of Ireland hosting the WRC in 2026, Minister Byrne and his Department have informed Motorsport Ireland that any decision by Government to provide state funding to support the hosting of major sporting events needs to be underpinned by an independent economic analysis and business case, which should address the following: A detailed and comprehensive inventory of the services required to be provided by national and local government (including transport, security and other considerations); an assessment of the economic benefits and costs accruing from the event; and an analysis of the sustainability of the event.”

Grégoire Munster, Louis Louka, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Ford Puma Rally1

Grégoire Munster, Louis Louka, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Ford Puma Rally1

Photo by: M-Sport

Reflecting on the recent developments, Motorsport Ireland president Aidan Harper added: “This is a progressive step in Motorsport Ireland’s plans to bring the World Rally Championship back to this island.

“Over the last month, we have had constructive discussions with Minister Byrne and the WRC Promoter and we look forward to assisting Department officials with any additional information they require while carrying out their analysis.

“I greatly appreciate Minister Byrne’s commitment to undertaking the necessary assessments to consider an event of this nature. Ireland has demonstrated it can hold international motorsport events in the past and I have no doubt we will again in the future.” 

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