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NI could yet host World Rally event in 2021 after missing out

 

By Sammy Hamill

Northern Ireland's bid to host the World Rally Championship is "not over" despite the decision to keep Britain's round of the global series, Rally GB, in Wales again next year.

The announcement by Motorsport UK officially ended months of speculation it would be coming to Belfast.

However, such a move has not been ruled out for the future, possibly in 2021.

A spokesman for Motorsport UK said: "It's not over. We are still looking to bring the event to other parts of the UK, whether it be England, Scotland or Northern Ireland.

"It could still happen for Northern Ireland in the future but for now we are returning to Wales next year."

Northern Ireland tourism officials and leading motorsport figures have been in talks with Motorsport UK for more than a year but were unable to get a deal over the line in time to meet the early October deadline when the world governing body, the FIA, confirmed the 2020 calendar.

It listed Rally GB for a late October/early November date but didn't detail a venue.

Now it has been confirmed it will remain in Wales even though Motorsport UK had previously stated "there was an appetite" to move the event to other parts of the UK.

But without a Stormont minister to approve the business case and sign off on funding the Northern Ireland project has been put on hold for at least another year.

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