M-Sport team principal Richard Millener has urged British and Irish fans to get behind next year’s bid for Rally Northern Ireland by answering a survey to demonstrate their support for the Belfast-based event.
Britain’s World Rally Championship future hangs by a thread, with Rally NI the only alternative in 2022. Last year’s Deeside-based Rally GB was lost to coronavirus and a proposed WRC counter in Northern Ireland this August had to be spiked (and replaced by Ypres) when the funding couldn’t be secured in time.
The WRC was last in Northern Ireland in 2009 for the second of two cross-border Rally Ireland’s based out of Sligo.
“It’s crazy to think of a WRC without a round in the UK,” Millener told DirtFish.
“Yes, it’s our home round and everybody wants their home event included on the calendar, but as well as that, we firmly believe an event in Northern Ireland would be fantastic.
Because Wales isn’t in a position to make it happen, that’s no reason to give upRich Millener
“Look at the roads we’ve got over there, look at the heritage the sport has and look at the infrastructure we have in Belfast.”
Millener added that the Rally NI survey offered an opportunity for rally fans to make their voices heard.
“We need those guys out there to show the support right now,” he added.
“There’s very credible, solid evidence of the economic boost bringing the WRC to Belfast and Northern Ireland delivers – but it’ll really help to have people answering the survey and making it clear they’ll be there supporting the hotels, the restaurants and pubs and then probably coming back on holiday a couple of months later because they’ve really enjoyed the place. That’s how these things work.
“Having Britain represented on the WRC calendar is vital and just because Wales isn’t in a position to make it happen, that’s no reason to give up.”
The opportunity for Rally NI remains very much alive for next season, with WRC Promoter managing director Jonah Siebel recently saying: “It’s sad the WRC will not enjoy the beauty of Northern Ireland this year, but the pandemic continues to impact the global economy.
“Our enthusiasm for a WRC round there remains strong and we look forward to continuing our discussions for 2022.”
In addition to the warm, fuzzy feeling of knowing you’ve done the right thing, completing the survey could also land you a free five-night stay in a four-star Belfast hotel for the duration of the event, one of five WRC+ subscriptions or one of 12 gorgeous McKlein calendars
The survey can be completed here.