Evans backs Welsh event for ERC inclusion

Organizers of September's Rali Ceredigion are hoping to return FIA-level rallying to Britain

Rali Ceredigion arch 2

Few feel Wales’ absence from an FIA calendar as keenly as Elfyn Evans. It’s four years since Rally GB last graced the nation’s northern coastline – but a new option has emerged to return international rallying to the principality in the shape of Rali Ceredigion.

The all-asphalt event, won by Hayden Paddon last year, is vying for a slot on next year’s European Rally Championship, and it has the six-time world rally winner’s backing.

Welshman Evans said: “The UK desperately needs to get a rally reinstated back on an FIA calendar and Rali Ceredigion now looks like our best opportunity to achieve that.

“The organisers comprise an experienced team of international competitors with great ambitions to take it forward. The stages are world-class, fast and technical with high levels of grip, making them challenging but very rewarding from a competitor’s perspective.”

Hayden Paddon, Phil Pugh, Jared Hudson

Leading that team is former WRC co-driver Phil Pugh. Now the chairman of the Rali Ceredigion organising team, Pugh said: “Losing Wales Rally GB has been a significant setback for rallying in the UK and it’s important that we, as event organisers and enthusiasts, do whatever we can to try and restore our place on an international championship.

“In doing so, it would give UK competitors in supporting domestic championships a chance to pit themselves against a top-class ERC field.”

Pugh met with ERC officials at Sweden’s Royal Rally of Scandinavia earlier this month.

“Every year we strive to innovate and drive our event forward,” he said, “and fulfilling our ambition to become a round of the ERC – sooner rather than later – is the next step in that progression.”

Our ambition is to become a round of the ERC – sooner rather than later Phil Pugh

“We’re working diligently with key stakeholders such as Ceredigion County Council to secure a slot at the earliest opportunity. Our visit to the Royal Rally resulted in some very useful discussions with the promoter and allowed to us see exactly what is required to deliver our strategy and make that happen.”

ERC manager Iain Campbell said: “The WRC Promoter is regularly in conversations with interested parties to be part of the FIA European Rally Championship and it is of no secret that one of those interested is Rali Ceredigion. We will continue to hold an open dialogue to have a round of the ERC in the UK.”

This year’s event runs from September 2/3 and offers 100 competitive miles in mid-Wales.

The ERC last visited the UK for the Belfast-based Circuit of Ireland in 2016.

Words:David Evans