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WRC meets with Motorsport UK to discuss Rally GB revival in Scotland

World Rally Championship bosses have met with Motorsport UK officials to discuss the idea of potentially reviving Rally GB in Scotland.

Ott Tänak, Martin Järveoja, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota Yaris WRC

Toyota Racing

Motorsport UK CEO Hugh Chambers and chairman David Richards met with the WRC Promoter at last weekend’s Rally Sweden, with Rally GB among the topics discussed.

Great Britain was a mainstay of the WRC from its inaugural season in 1973 until 2019, the last edition of the famous event held before it dropped off the calendar.

The Covid-19 pandemic, coupled with the loss of funding from the Welsh government, has been cited as the reasons for its demise.

Last weekend in Sweden, the WRC Promoter confirmed that initial discussions were held regarding the possibility that the WRC could head to Scotland, with 2026 touted as the earliest possible date should a bid led by Motorsport UK be successful.

The last time Scotland featured on an international rally calendar was in 2011, when it formed part of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge.

“We met with David [Richards] and Hugh Chambers and had some very initial discussions,” WRC event director Simon Larkin told Autosport.

“I would say it’s at very, very initial stages from their side. We’ll just continue to work with them.

“They’ve asked for some details from us and some proposals from us and we’ll do that in the next few weeks and give them some more data to go on.”

IRC made Scotland a regular part of its calendar, with the most recent event held in 2011

IRC made Scotland a regular part of its calendar, with the most recent event held in 2011

Photo by: Sutton Images

Motorsport UK has long held a desire to resurrect the event with Chambers telling Autosport last year that Rally GB’s absence from the WRC is “unfinished business” for the organisation.

“We are looking at all the home nations, revisiting Wales and having conversations in Scotland and looking at the North of England. We won’t stop,” said Chambers. 

“There is no question that it is massive unfinished business for us to get the WRC back.

Scotland’s emergence as a potential target to host the WRC is the latest plan to bring the championship back to the UK.

After Rally GB lost its place on the calendar, a bid headed by Bobby Willis emerged to bring the WRC to Northern Ireland, but a lack of government funding halted its progress.

High-level international rallying will however return to Great Britain this year following confirmation that Rali Ceredigion in Wales will host the penultimate round of the European Rally Championship from 30 August -1 September.

A Rally GB bid could be complicated by a move from the Republic of Ireland, which is making significant progress with its plans to secure a three-year deal to host the WRC beginning from next year.

Venues in Waterford, Limerick and Kerry have been selected by Motorsport Ireland to be used on a rotation basis, a concept approved by WRC.

The potential return of WRC to the Republic of Ireland may make a return to the UK harder to realise

The potential return of WRC to the Republic of Ireland may make a return to the UK harder to realise

Photo by: Sutton Images

Ireland’s bid currently hinges on securing 15 million euros of funding from the Irish government. A decision is expected to arrive next month.

“If we do this Ireland deal, we need to consider whether we need a round in the UK as well,” Larkin added.

“If we’re going to be limited to 14 events, self-limiting to 14 events and we want to expand back again out of Europe like we were planning for 2020.

“What sort of spread of events do we want throughout Europe? The demand for the slots is heavy both inside Europe and outside of it.”

The USA, Paraguay and the Middle East in addition to Ireland are all vying to join the WRC calendar in the near future.

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