Craig Breen won the Ulster Rally with Paul Nagle when it last ran in 2019

Northern Ireland will not be represented in next season’s British Rally Championship calendar – a decision that has been called into question by the man who oversees the Ulster International Rally.

The Circuit of Ireland, Down Rally and Ulster have all missed out on a place on the 2022 calendar, with all seven points-scoring rounds instead taking place at locations across England, Scotland and Wales.

As part of the new-look Championship, crews head to Clacton-on-Sea in April before travelling to the Jim Clark Rally, the Nicky Grist Stages and the Grampian Forest Rally. These are followed by Rali Bae, the Trackrod Rally and the Cambrian Rally on dates between early September and the end of October.

British Rally Championship Manager Iain Campbell claimed logistics was the reason for all three local events missing out. “The reason is very simple: we just could not get any dates to fit within the other events we wanted to form part of the Championship next year,” said Iain Campbell.

BRC Championship Manager Iain Campbell

“The Circuit is the weekend before Corbeau Seats Tendring and Clacton Rally, the Ulster Rally is the weekend after the Grampian Forest Rally and the Down Rally the weekend after the Nicky Grist Stages.

“We need to have strong gravel events, which the Nicky Grist Stages and Grampian Forest rallies are,” Campbell continued. “There’s no way that competitors could do these rallies and then re-prepare their cars, on top of changing them from gravel to asphalt settings or vice-versa, for the following weekend.

“But I feel we have a really strong calendar of great events that offer a cost-effective season for both time and money reasons. It will offer a challenge of stages and conditions from April to late October.”

April’s Circuit of Ireland was part of the original line-up for 2021 but early in the new year organisers took the decision to cancel it because of the uncertainty that surrounded COVID’s ‘R’ rate at the time.

The Ulster, meanwhile, was drafted in to the revised calendar, with Event Director Richard Swanston agreeing to run it three months later than its traditional August slot to keep it a seven-round series. “I am very disappointed that we will not be a part of the Championship again in 2022,” said Swanston.

“When you see how many Irish drivers support the BRC it’s nice to have a home round”

Ulster Rally Event Director, Richard Swanston

“There are no rounds in Northern Ireland and none in the south, either, as West Cork hasn’t got a look in. When you consider how many Irish drivers support the BRC it’s nice to have even one home round.”

The Circuit’s Event Director echoed those sentiments. “I’m not terribly happy to be honest. It was my understanding we were to be a round, but obviously that has since changed,” said Graeme Stewart.

“From a local perspective it’s very disappointing. Our loyalty lies with the Irish Tarmac Championship but it would still have been nice to have been a round of the British Rally Championship,” he added.

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