Next year’s Ulster Rally will revert back to its traditional August date if efforts to bring the World Rally Championship to Northern Ireland for the first time since 2011 fail.
Speculation is growing that Rally Northern Ireland promoter Bobby Willis and the World Rally Championship Promoter are inching towards an agreement for Belfast to host the UK round next summer. If that happens, then August 18-21 are the days it will run on.
The Ulster Rally‘s Event Director confirmed he is looking at the weekend of August 19/20 to run the Irish Tarmac classic and will continue to do so until the uncertainty that surrounds the incomplete World Rally Championship calendar is ended.
Richard Swanston added that “contingency plans” are in place that will allow the Ulster Rally to be held by officials and organisers from Northern Ireland Motor Club on a different weekend should the need arise.
“It is the only possible direction at present and quite simply it makes perfect sense to do that,” said Swanston. “The Northern Ireland Motor Club fully supports the on-going efforts by many parties to bring the FIA World Rally Championship to Northern Ireland in 2022.
“It would be a massive boost for the sport. We would love to see it happen but it would have an enormous impact on all local rally events, not just the Ulster International Rally.
“And if the FIA World Rally Championship does visit the province in 2022, then there are contingency plans in place that will allow us to push ahead with the Ulster International Rally on a different date,” he added.
Last month, Parliament heard how the UK government was aware of plans to ensure the UK was represented in the WRC in 2022. The Minister of State for Northern Ireland claimed the plan would become a reality should the numbers stack up.
The UK has become a cornerstone of the WRC since the competition was launched in 1973, with the exceptions of 1996 and last year.