The United Kingdom will not stage a round of the FIA World Rally Championship for the second year in succession, organisers have confirmed.
Wales Rally GB was cancelled in 2020 due to coronavirus and this year’s proposed Rally Northern Ireland has now been deferred due to uncertainty over public funding relative to the pandemic.
Belgium will make its debut on the calendar by taking the August slot vacated by the proposed Northern Irish leg. Renties Ypres Rally Belgium will take place on asphalt on dates to be confirmed.
— WRC – FIA World Rally Championship (@OfficialWRC) January 8, 2021
Rally Northern Ireland promoter Bobby Willis said: “Tourism Northern Ireland recognises that hosting Rally Northern Ireland in 2021 represented a positive opportunity to profile the region globally and would serve to celebrate Northern Ireland’s motorsport heritage.
“However, it feels Covid-19 could diminish the substantial economic benefits WRC historically bestows upon its host regions, and therefore investment would not represent best value for public money at this time.
“We must accept the situation for 2021 and focus on our discussions to explore the avenues for 2022.”
Further to the news from @OfficialWRC regarding the 2021 calendar, Hugh Chambers, Motorsport UK CEO, commented: “Against the economic backdrop of COVID-19, it is unfortunate that the requisite funding could not be agreed to secure the UK’s position within the 2021 calendar. (1/3) pic.twitter.com/RaXGa4j2jP
— Motorsport UK (@ourmotorsportuk) January 8, 2021
Jona Siebel, managing director of WRC Promoter, the commercial rights holder for the championship, added: “It’s sad the WRC will not enjoy the beauty of Northern Ireland this year, but the pandemic continues to impact the global economy.
“Our enthusiasm for a WRC round there remains strong and we look forward to continuing our discussions for 2022.”