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Rally Ireland: bye bye World Rally Championship

loeb, rally ireland

The bidding process for the 2025 WRC events, managed by WRC Promoter, closed at the end of March. However, Motorsport Ireland found itself lacking the necessary funding to submit a competitive bid. Faced with this financial challenge, the organization requested a two-week extension to complete the funding procedures, a request that was granted.

Ireland’s aspirations to see the prestigious Rally Ireland return to the World Rally Championship in 2025 have suffered a severe setback, falling victim to funding delays. Motorsport Ireland, the governmental organization responsible for motorsport in Ireland, has indicated it will aim for 2026 instead, leaving the immediate future of the rally on Irish soil uncertain.

The bidding process for the 2025 WRC events, managed by WRC Promoter, closed at the end of March. However, Motorsport Ireland found itself lacking the necessary funding to submit a competitive bid. Faced with this financial challenge, the organization requested a two-week extension to complete the funding procedures, a request that was granted.

However, Thomas Byrne, Irish Minister of State for Sport, Physical Education, and the Gaeltacht, has introduced further uncertainty to the situation. He confirmed that his department will require “at least six months” to conduct additional independent economic evaluations and analysis of the proposal put forward by Motorsport Ireland before committing public funds. This bureaucratic delay effectively ruled out Ireland’s ability to bid for hosting a WRC stage in 2025.

Nevertheless, Motorsport Ireland hasn’t given up. Despite the setback for 2025, the organization has expressed intentions to explore the possibility of hosting Rally Ireland in subsequent years beyond 2025. This demonstrates a long-term commitment to ensuring the return of top-level motorsport to Ireland, even if it means waiting beyond the initially anticipated timeline.

loeb, rally ireland 2007
Loeb, Rally Ireland 2007

In a press release issued by Motorsport Ireland, it was clarified that the organization adhered to the terms of the bidding process, providing detailed information to both Minister Byrne and the Major Sports Events Unit regarding timelines and procedures. Despite this, the lack of timely responses from the Department further complicated the situation, leading to the request for an extension, which was granted by WRC Promoter.

“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 from the Department by the Q1 deadline, Motorsport Ireland requested, and were granted, an extension of a fortnight from the promoter,” reads the press release.

The slowdown in the decision-making process is a blow to rally enthusiasts in Ireland and the automotive industry as a whole. The return of Rally Ireland to the WRC would have brought not only thrilling sporting competition but also significant economic and tourism impact to the entire region. However, with the current bureaucratic delays, this return will have to wait.

In the meantime, Motorsport Ireland’s efforts to secure the return of Rally Ireland continue. The organization is committed to exploring all available options to ensure that the prestigious motorsport event returns to Irish roads as soon as possible. While 2025 may be out of reach, optimism for the future remains strong, fueled by the passion and determination of the Irish motorsport community.