Rally GB lost to 2021 WRC Calendar

News broke on Friday afternoon that the WRC Promoter had confirmed that Rally GB 2021 would not take place due to the funding constraints associated with its running.

It had been hoped that Northern Ireland would pick up the mantle from Wales Rally GB as the British round of the WRC series, but main proponent Bobby Willis failed to convince Tourism Northern Ireland chiefs the 2million needed was, in fact, a sensible way to spend public money in the face of the current coronavirus health pandemic, despite the current Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Brandon Lewis MP, appearing enthusiastic at the prospect.

But Willis remains optimistic that he can make the numbers add up and continues to receive the backing of top drivers, including Hyundai Motorsport's Craig Breen, and North Antrim MP and Chair of the Northern Ireland Motorsport Taskforce Ian Paisley.

Motorsport UK is also committed to the cause and CEO, Hugh Chambers, said: "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. Motorsport UK is working to secure sustainable funding for the event's early return to the FIA World Rally Championship calendar."

Except for 2020 and now 2021, the UK has been a mainstay of the WRC every year since the competition began in 1973. The FIA's Rally Director Yves Matton paid tribute to Willis - as the same man who helped to revive the Circuit of Ireland, paving the way for its inclusion in the European Rally Championship: "The 2021 WRC calendar has been developed against the backdrop of the challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic and we knew we would possibly face ongoing issues in this new year," said Matton. "Bobby Willis and his team have put in a lot of work and efforts to bring the WRC to Northern Ireland and we're very disappointed there will be no rally in the UK this year."

14th January, 2021