world rally championship

WRC Rally Ireland Bid Halted By Government

Motorsport Ireland have today released a statement confirming that their bid to host a round of the World Rally Championship is no longer being considered.

It is with deep regret that Motorsport Ireland today confirm that Ireland is no longer being considered to host a round of the FIA World Rally Championship in 2025. On Monday April 15th Motorsport Ireland finally received confirmation from Minister Byrne, Minister of State for Sport, Physical Education and the Gaeltacht, that his Department would need “at least six months” to undertake further independent economic assessments and analysis of our proposal.

The closing date for the bidding process with WRC Promoter GmbH was the end of Q1 this year, a date that Motorsport Ireland made both Minister Byrne and the Major Sports Events Unit aware of from the outset. Due to having received no update the Department by the Q1 deadline, Motorsport Ireland requested, and were granted, an extension of a fortnight from the promoter.

Motorsport Ireland first approached the Government back in early 2023 and in June of that year had a fruitful meeting with Minister Thomas Byrne and his colleagues where we presented how we can showcase Ireland on the world stage by bringing the World Rally Championship to Ireland for a three-year period. In the meeting Motorsport Ireland were complimented by Minister Byrne that we were doing the right thing by coming good and early with respect to a funding request for a 2025 event. After the meeting we were referred to the Major Sports Events Unit whom we engaged with and submitted a full event screening application on October 6th 2023.

To date, Motorsport Ireland have received no questions or feedback on any of the documents we submitted, despite multiple communications to the Department asking if additional information was required. To learn on the last day of our extension from the promoter that Minister Byrne’s Department now require another six months to undertake further independent assessments and analysis is very frustrating.

From the beginning Motorsport Ireland have been very clear that March 2024 was the cutoff for receiving acknowledgment if we were successful or not in our request for funding. This deadline wasn’t chosen by Motorsport Ireland, this was an operational deadline set by the World Rally Championship promoter. The demand for the limited number of slots in the WRC calendar is running at an all-time high and the promoter is in a position to choose host countries that are able to commit and thus benefit from a multi-year major event strategy. The promoter cutoff date must be respected so that they can plan their 2025-2027 calendar strategy. This Q1 deadline was flagged in Motorsport Ireland’s event screening application and in all subsequent communications to the Department. We are extremely thankful to WRC Promoter GmbH for granting us an extension to try and make inclusion for 2025 possible but yesterday’s response from Minister Byrne confirms it cannot happen.

Motorsport Ireland President Aiden Haper stated; “I am saddened that it has come to this but unfortunately, we are left with no option. We always stated that the FIA World Rally Championship could only come to Ireland with the financial support of Government while always being aware that the funding may not be forthcoming. It is  a great shame to have to hand this great opportunity, and the economic benefit it would bring, over to another awaiting country.”

President Harper continued; “In January of this year, Motorsport Ireland announced the three regions, Kerry, Limerick and the South East, that would host the events should funding be secured. Non-inclusion in 2025 is in no way any reflection on any of those areas. The work that has been put in by them has been incredible and I thank them for that. I would like to thank the WRC Promoter GmbH, especially Simon Larkin, for all his assistance throughout this process and hopefully we will be in a position to revisit this magnificent opportunity in the future. For now, we will continue as always to deliver our motorsport calendar here in Ireland, to the highest standards, across all our disciplines.”

Motorsport Ireland notes and appreciates Minister Byrne’s commitment to undertaking the necessary assessments and analysis required and will continue to communicate with him, his Department and WRC Promoter GmbH to see if alternative hosting years are possible beyond 2025.

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