Stakeholders to collaborate on gaining Government support for World Rally Championship return to the UK ahead of April decision deadline

The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Motorsport yesterday (31 January 2023) held a meeting of stakeholders critical to securing the return of the World Rally Championship (WRC) to the UK, with  a bid to host the event in Northern Ireland.

“The UK has a profound and lengthy history in rallying” said Bracknell MP, Co-Chair of the APPG and long time competitor James Sunderland.

A WRC event was last held in the UK in 2019 after being a staple part of the global motorsport calendar and generated multiple world champions and teams, as well as spurring significant technological advances that have become standard on road vehicles. 

Members of Parliament were joined by senior representatives of the WRC, Motorsport UK, and the event promotor, as well as Tourism Northern Ireland and Events Northern Ireland.  Teams were also represented as their presence generates substantial impact on local economies before, during, and after the four-day international event.

“It was abundantly clear from the meeting that all parties involved want the WRC to return to the UK, and to Northern Ireland in particular.” said APPG Vice-Chair and North Antrim MP Ian Paisley.  “A well-researched and strong case has been built thanks to the outstanding collaboration between all parties.  However, there remains one more fundamental element to be found, financial support from national, devolved and regional governments.”

WRC reiterated its desire to see the UK back in the World Championship calendar and has provided the end of April this year as the deadline by which any decision must be taken for a 2024 event.

James Sunderland continued, saying “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.”

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 are committed to reviewing ahead of the April deadline for a decision to be taken.

“Ultimately, this is a straightforward decision for Ministers” concluded Greg Smith, Co-Chair of the APPG and MP for Buckingham.  “We know how much the event will cost, we know how much it will generate, and we know all those who need to be are committed.  We are ready to sit down with Ministers and make it happen and see the WRC back in the UK in 2024.”