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World Rally blow to Montgomeryshire

Created on 10/01/2021 @ 10:24

Hopes that the World Rally Championship (WRC) would provide a post-Covid economic shot-in-the-arm for Montgomeryshire later this year have been dashed after it was revealed that Wales has lost its slot to Belgium.

The event has brought thousands of visitors into Mid Wales for decades, and according to an economic-impact survey last year it can pump up to £10 million into the local hospitality sector as well as promoting our sensational scenery to a worldwide television audience.

Just eight years ago, both the WRC and the Tour Of Britain cycling event brought the world’s best from both sports to Newtown and Welshpool respectively on a day remembered as ‘Fantastic Friday’.

But dwindling Welsh Government funding and more dynamic proposals provided by emerging countries desperate to host the annual series means Britain will be without a round for the first time.

The decision is even more frustrating for rally fans with Mid Wales driver Elfyn Evans missing on winning the championship this year by a whisker.

And, more worryingly, lead observers fear that should Rally GB make it back onto the calendar, then British organisers may opt for Northern Ireland in future with an enthusiastic bid made to snatch it from under Welsh noses.

Veteran WRC pundit, Colin Clark, said: “How has this been allowed to happen? Today is a very bad day for UK rallying.”

In response to the announcement, Iain Campbell, Clerk of the Course, said: “To everyone to whom the autumnal months of each year have been spent planning, preparing and delivering the country’s premier rally, I know how sore you are feeling about this news. The long hours you have all put into maintaining the high standards expected of a WRC event have been truly appreciated by me, the competitors, marshals and spectators. 

“Wales has been a great friend of the event for nearly 20 years. Hopefully we can revisit the most fantastic stages the country has to offer. But there could be new adventures to be had in the other nations of the United Kingdom - who knows.”

In their official announcement, the WRC promoter did not even mention Wales and pointed to the fact that Northern Ireland would likely be considered as a potential Rally GB venue in 2022.

PICTURE: Thousands of fans have packed the Montgomeryshire forests for decades to follow the WRC, bringing valuable income to the local hospitality sector.


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