Ireland's WRC bid postponed due to funding delays

Rally Ireland's slot to the next year's calendar will not come true as Motorsport Ireland could not get the funding to apply for its return back to the World Rally Championship in 2025.

The people in charge of Motorsport Ireland had an early discussion with FIA and WRC Promoter in order to Ireland to host a WRC round with a rotation system from 2025 to 2027. Three cities (Limerick, Waterford and Kerry) were proposed to be the rally center of Rally Ireland as the organizers were very close to come to a three-year agreement with FIA and WRC Promoter, but Motorsport Ireland had to find a fund of 15 million euros to secure their place at the 2025 WRC calendar. The Irish government did not respond to Motorsport Ireland's questions and documents; thus the Craig Breen's country lost its opportunity to return to the sport next season. Last but not least, it must be mentioned that the last time that WRC visited Ireland was back in 2009 where Sebastien Loeb finished at the top step of the podium with Citroen Racing.

"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", a statement from Motorsport Ireland said. 

"Due to having received no update the Department by the Q1 deadline, Motorsport Ireland requested, and were granted, an extension of a fortnight from the promoter.”

"Motorsport Ireland first approached the Government back in early 2023 and in June of that year had a fruitful meeting with Minister Thomas Byrne and his colleagues where we presented how we can showcase Ireland on the world stage by bringing the World Rally Championship to Ireland for a three-year period. 

"In the meeting Motorsport Ireland were complimented by Minister Byrne that we were doing the right thing by coming good and early with respect to a funding request for a 2025 event. 

"After the meeting we were referred to the Major Sports Events Unit whom we engaged with and submitted a full event screening application on October 6th 2023.

"To date, Motorsport Ireland have received no questions or feedback on any of the documents we submitted, despite multiple communications to the Department asking if additional information was required.

"To learn on the last day of our extension from the promoter that Minister Byrne’s Department now require another six months to undertake further independent assessments and analysis is very frustrating.

"From the beginning Motorsport Ireland have been very clear that March 2024 was the cutoff for receiving acknowledgment if we were successful or not in our request for funding. 

"This deadline wasn’t chosen by Motorsport Ireland, this was an operational deadline set by the World Rally Championship promoter.

"The demand for the limited number of slots in the WRC calendar is running at an all-time high and the promoter is in a position to choose host countries that are able to commit and thus benefit from a multi-year major event strategy. 

"The promoter cutoff date must be respected so that they can plan their 2025-2027 calendar strategy. 

"This Q1 deadline was flagged in Motorsport Ireland’s event screening application and in all subsequent communications to the Department.

"We are extremely thankful to WRC Promoter GmbH for granting us an extension to try and make inclusion for 2025 possible but yesterday’s response from Minister Byrne confirms it cannot happen".


Photo Credits: Citroen Racing

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