The UK has been absent from the WRC schedule since Wales Rally GB in 2019 after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the 2020 event amid reduced funding from the Welsh government.
Following the loss of the event, a bid fronted by promoter Bobby Willis attempted to bring the WRC to Northern Ireland in 2021 and 2022, but the project failed to secure the £2 million funding to run the event.
This week the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Motorsport, an informal group of members of UK parliament, met with senior representatives of the WRC, Motorsport UK, and the event promoter, as well as Tourism Northern Ireland and Events Northern Ireland to discuss plans to revive the bid for 2024.
According to a report on the group’s website, the APPG is working with all stakeholders to send a joint letter to senior Ministers with the budget and business case, and public bodies responsible for assessing and recommending bids on behalf of Ministers.
«The UK has a profound and lengthy history in rallying» said Bracknell MP, Co-Chair of the APPG and long-time competitor James Sunderland.
Elfyn Evans (GB), M-Sport Ford WRT, Ford Fiesta WRC 2019
«Ministers have been supportive of a UK bid but we are at the stage where that must translate to some financial backing, and quickly.
«Stakeholders have developed a clear business case showing the economic benefits a WRC event brings to the local and national economies, far in excess of the level of public funding required by any bid.
«Combined with the UK’s retained institutional memory from marshals, volunteers and infrastructure providers, the costs are known and the event can be ready as quickly as any other in the calendar. It is a simple matter of getting out more than you put in.»
It is understood the WRC, which has thrown its support behind the Northern Ireland bid, will require a decision by the end of April if it wishes to add the UK to its 2024 calendar.
As previously reported, the WRC is keen to add new events to its calendar next year, with Rally USA and a round in Saudi Arabia among its targets.