BREAKING: Plans to bring World Rally Championship to Limerick fail to start

Limerick and Ireland are now out of the running to host the WRC. Photo: Philip Fitzpatrick.

LIMERICK and Ireland are no longer in the running to host the World Rally Championship for the next three years, Motorsport Ireland have confirmed.

Motorsport Ireland (MI) put together a bid to host a round of the World Rally Championship (WRC), with the governing body voting that Limerick, Kerry, and the South East would all host a stage of the WRC over the next three years.

Now, MI have confirmed that Ireland is no longer in the running to host a stage as the government need “at least six months” to undertake economic assessments and analysis of the MI proposal.

Because of this, Ireland has missed the closing date for bids, set by WRC Promoter GmbH.

The hosting of the world-renowned rally was previously estimated to bring a €300million windfall to the Irish economy.

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In a statement, Motorsport Ireland said they were granted a two week extension by the prompter to submit a bid, but on the final day of the extended bidding process, they received confirmation from Minister of State for Tourism, Arts, Sport, and Media Thomas Byrne that the department would need “at least six months” to carry out further economic impact assessments.

“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 statement from Motorsport Ireland said.

Motorsport Ireland President Aiden Harper said he was “saddened that it has come to this, but unfortunately we are left with no option.”

“We always stated that the FIA World Rally Championship could only come to Ireland with the financial support of government while always being aware that the funding may not be forthcoming. It is a great shame to have to hand this great opportunity, and the economic benefit it would bring, over to another awaiting country.”

In January of this year, it was announced that Limerick, Kerry, and the South East would co-host the WRC, with a round taking place in each county over the three-year contract, if funding were to be secured.

“Non-inclusion in 2025 is in no way any reflection on any of those areas. The work that has been put in by them has been incredible and I thank them for that,” Mr Harper added.