Rally Northern Ireland still vying for final 2022 WRC calendar spot

Following last Friday’s FIA World Motor Sport Council, the WRC released next year’s schedule, with a tarmac event listed as TBC for 18-21 August.

The FIA has been outspoken about its wishes to bring the championship back to the United Kingdom, which last hosted a round in 2019 with Wales Rally GB, before COVID-19 cancelled last year’s event.

Rally GB organisers considered moving the event to Northern Ireland for this year, but a bid failed to secure the required £2million funding with the uncertainty of the COVID-19 cited as a reason.

It resulted in Belgium’s Ypres Rally being introduced for this year.

As previously reported, there has been a renewed push to bring WRC to Northern Ireland in 2022, again fronted by Belfast businessman Bobby Willis.

The event was among six candidates vying for over four vacant spots on a partial nine round WRC calendar issued in July.

Reports coming out of Northern Ireland remain hopeful it will still secure a berth on the 2022 schedule. Although, it appears an agreement is yet to be struck between organisers and WRC Promoter.

Conveniently the TBC date on the 2022 WRC calendar is the same slot traditionally earmarked for the Ulster Rally.

Motorsport UK remains fully committed to bringing the WRC back to the UK next year and has issued the following statement to Autosport.

Kris Meeke, Sebastian Marshall, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota Yaris WRC

Kris Meeke, Sebastian Marshall, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota Yaris WRC

Photo by: Toyota Racing

“Motorsport UK is committed to bringing the World Rally Championship back to the UK, and its economic and social impact, as well as the global coverage it would provide, has support at the highest levels, including the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Motorsport,” read the statement.

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The omission of a UK round on the WRC calendar was met with disappointment by Welshman and Toyota driver Elfyn Evans at Rally Spain last weekend

“Yes is the answer,” when asked if he was frustrated by the UK not listed on the 2022 calendar.

“It is a massive loss for the calendar for one because a calendar without Wales Rally GB is the same as having a calendar with no Monte Carlo or a calendar with no Rally Finland in my view.

“Maybe I am bit biased because I come from Wales, but for me it is one of the classics and a lot of the drivers enjoy it and also for UK motorsport in general.

“I think having a home round of the World Rally Championship is really key for the youngsters coming through as well a youngsters to spark an interest in the sport.

“I think it is a great shame and that is before the point that a lot of my competitors let’s say have had a home round and most of them have been close to or have won it.

“As we have seen Thierry [Neuville] was so strong in Ypres and I would have liked to think that perhaps we could have been quite strong in Wales.”

Last week’s calendar release did however confirm that New Zealand will return to the schedule having been among the events cancelled by the pandemic in 2020. Finland and Croatia secured the other two vacant spots.



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