Wales Rally GB: Talks to hold event in Northern Ireland

Elfyn Evans in action on day two of the Wales Rally GB in 2018 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Wales Rally GB will be held in Llandudno again this October

The Wales Rally GB could be switched to Northern Ireland next year despite the Welsh Government having a deal to stage it until 2021, it has emerged.

Motorsport UK chief executive Hugh Chambers has confirmed an agreement is in place to stage the rally in Wales this year and in 2020 and 2021.

However, talks are being held about Northern Ireland hosting it in 2020.

The Welsh Government said it was focused on making this year's event a success.

Mr Chambers told BBC Wales: "In parallel with our discussions with the Welsh Government, we were also talking to Northern Ireland.

"We made the Welsh Government aware, and it was a very grown-up conversation.

"In the event it went to Northern Ireland, we would suspend the contract with the Welsh Government for a year, and the Welsh Government have said they would entertain that.

"They are very aware through their colleagues in Northern Ireland that these discussions are taking place."

Mr Chambers said no decision had been made, and currently there was a deal to hold the event in Wales next year.

He added: "It's arisen because there was interest from Northern Ireland to explore the possibilities around the World Rally Championship being held in Northern Ireland and we have been in exploration of that notion."

Mr Chambers said if the rally went to Northern Ireland, it would return to Wales the following year.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption As well as forests, the rally takes in special stages, including around Llandudno's Great Orme

He said traditionally the rally used to visit different parts of the UK and was currently known as the Wales Rally GB because Wales was the "sponsor".

A Welsh Government spokesman said: "Our focus remains on once again delivering a successful event this year from a new spectator-friendly base in Llandudno.

"We will discuss the staging of future events with our partners following a detailed evaluation of this year's event to ensure it continues to provide value for money for the Welsh taxpayer."

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