Wales Rally GB will stay despite Northern Ireland talks

car driving along coast road Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Event organisers had been discussing holding the rally in Northern Ireland next year

The British leg of the World Rally Championship will return to Wales next year, organisers have confirmed.

Event bosses had been in discussion with authorities in Northern Ireland about holding it there in 2020.

But following months of uncertainty, Motorsport UK chief Hugh Chambers said the Wales Rally GB would go ahead.

Mr Chambers said the success of the "fantastic" 2019 race had been a springboard to enable them to confirm its return.

The rally used to visit different parts of the UK, but is known as the Wales Rally GB because the Welsh Government is effectively the sponsor.

When Northern Ireland expressed an interest in holding the event, talks were opened. It would have meant the contract with the government in Wales would be suspended for a year.

This year's Wales Rally GB, which ended on Sunday, saw Llandudno chosen to host the event's headquarters and the closing stages.

It is estimated more than 100,000 people attended over four days, said to be worth more than £10m to the economy.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Hugh Chambers said the success of this year's rally secured its future in Wales

Mr Chambers said: "As I travelled around the countryside over the last week or so talking to people - whether it's the volunteers, the officials, the fans - everybody is saying the same thing - they want the rally to come back to Wales."

Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Dafydd Elis-Thomas, said: "It's a great event, taking advantage of some of the stunning locations north and mid Wales have to offer while showcasing these to a worldwide audience.

"We look forward to seeing the organiser's post-event report and hearing the proposals for next year's event in Wales."

The exact location of 2020's rally and its headquarters have yet to be confirmed but Conwy council is in talks with organisers with a view to bringing it back.

This year was not without its hitches, with organisers cancelling the stage on the Great Orme at Llandudno because the safety diving team was unable to be deployed.

On the first morning, the Aberhirnant stage in Gwynedd was stopped and the Penmachno stage in Conwy had to be stopped due to a crash.

The rally mainly took place across north Wales but went as far south as Myherin near Llangurig, Powys, before travelling back up the country and along the Conwy and Denbighshire border and finishing in Llandudno.

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