Why Britain's continued WRC absence is a wake-up call
OPINION: With Rally GB dropping off the World Rally Championship calendar for the second year in a row, one of Britain's best-attended sporting events faces an uncertain future. It's an unfortunate situation that points to troubling times ahead
This year should mark the 89th anniversary of Rally GB, Britain's round of the World Rally Championship, since its inception. Only ever in times of world war or national disaster has it been missed, including the 2020 running of the event. We of course remain in the midst of a global pandemic, which does tend to put matters in perspective to a degree, but its absence for a second year in a row - with the news that the 2021 event will be replaced by Belgium's Rally Ypres - is not one of COVID-19's making. It is one of politics.
Would we be in this position if the FA Cup or even Crufts were in a similar pickle to that of the UK's national rally? It's hard to imagine prime minister Boris Johnson not lolloping to the rescue of any great British institution, beaming back at a grateful nation to announce that their pastime is 'coming home'.
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The World Rally Championship’s delayed return to the Safari Rally was always set throw up some surprises, but aside from a spirited showing by Thierry Neuville it became another painful event for Hyundai in 2021. Once again it was Sebastien Ogier who took full advantage as he completed a stunning comeback drive
For the second WRC gravel rally in a row, a promising Friday for Hyundai turned into desolation as Toyota gratefully picked up the pieces. This time it was championship leader Sebastien Ogier who took full advantage after Ott Tanak and Dani Sordo retired to score a memorable victory, having swept the road on the first two days
At one point Hyundai held the top three positions in Portugal, but when trouble struck the Korean marque's two leading chargers, a grateful Elfyn Evans was on hand to see off Hyundai third man Dani Sordo and become the third different winner in four rallies
Three years after a Dakar Rally crash resulted in him being airlifted to hospital, Andre Villas-Boas is preparing to make his debut on his home round of the World Rally Championship later this month. His goals for the event are modest, but the same cannot be said for the charities he plans to promote where his true impact could be felt
Hyundai Motorsport boss Andrea Adamo was vocal in his criticism of his team's tyre choices on Rally Croatia and declared that he "had better move my ass and solve it". Doing so will be vital to getting Hyundai's 2021 WRC title hopes back on track, but finding the root of the problem won't be the work of a moment
Sebastien Ogier was already in an incredibly tight fight at Rally Croatia before a surprise collision with public road traffic at the start of the final day. But the defending champion held his nerve to take a narrow victory and create further World Rally Championship history
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