Ireland’s national motorsport governing body hosted a press conference at its Dublin headquarters on Tuesday to reveal more details of its proposal to bring the WRC back to the country for the first time since 2009, as part of a proposed three-year deal.
WRC officials revealed last year at the Acropolis Rally that Ireland was a potential viable candidate to host a future WRC event, confirming discussions were underway regarding a new project.
Last year, Motorsport Ireland issued a letter of intent to its member motorsport clubs notifying of a potential bid, while asking each region of the country to provide potential locations for a 10,000 square metre service park, rally headquarters and media centre.
Locations in Limerick, Kerry and Waterford were put forward and inspected by Motorsport Ireland and the members of the WRC Promoter last week.
Following a thorough evaluation of the sites, Motorsport Ireland president Aidan Harper said that not one presentation was “head and shoulders” above another. As a result, it has been decided all three venues will be used on a rotation basis across the event’s initial three-year aim.
While venues have now been selected, the rally will still require funding for its bid to be successful. An application to the Irish government is underway to secure 15 million euros spread across three years, which Motorsport Ireland hopes will return 300 million euros to the economy.
“Today is a red letter day for motorsport in Ireland as we announce the service location for the World Rally Championship,” said Harper at the press conference.
Photo by: Sutton Images
Sébastien Loeb, Daniel Elena, Citroen Total WRT, Citroen C4 WRC
“Today’s announcement is a major building block in securing a slot on the FIA calendar for WRC in 2025, ‘26 and ’27. We still have numerous steps to take from applications to the FIA, safety inspections, candidate stages to World Motor Sport Council approval, and all of this is predicated on firstly securing the government funding that we need.
“The ask from our government is 15 million Euros over three years with a payback of 300 million Euros. This process is underway at present and our bid is currently under consideration by senior management in major sports and events unit of the department of tourism, culture, art, sport and media.
“I want to pay tribute to the months, weeks and days that has gone into each of these three locations by volunteers. I have seen the want and determination and the will to work together collaboratively to achieve an end goal. What I and the selection team have witnessed over the past week has been truly amazing.
“After competing our tour [of the venues] and instead of making our job easier had one proposal been head and shoulders above the other, we were still stuck as all proposals as they were so exceptional.
“We tried several different scoring systems which delivers similar if not slightly different results with no individual location coming out head and shoulders above the other two and in fact no two coming out head and shoulders above one location.
“Having exhausted all the ways we could come out with an outright winner, we decided to take a different approach including representatives of the WRC Promoter.
“Our decision is that with such a strong rally heritage throughout Ireland and having experienced an overwhelming display of a ’can do’ attitude for everyone it would be wrong to limit this spectacle to one location. So we propose to use all three locations and move from one to another year after year.
“Once the funding is secured, we will meet with all three groups to see if each have a preferred year and failing that we will operate a lottery system. None of this can happen without securing government funding. We have done it before, and we will do it again.”
If funding is secured, Motorsport.com understands that Ireland will be among a list of strong candidates vying for a spot on the 2025 WRC calendar.
It is anticipated that Saudi Arabia is in the frame to join the WRC from 2025, while Argentina is also tipped to be in the running for a return next year.