Ireland still in contention for WRC 2026 slot

Ireland's WRC hopes have faced a funding setback but aren't over just yet

Rally Ireland, Sligo 15-18 11 2007

WRC Promoter has confirmed that Rally Ireland is still under consideration for a future calendar slot in 2026, after Ireland’s bid for 2025 inclusion was withdrawn due to funding issues.

Ireland’s hopes of a WRC rounds were contingent on receiving €5 million of annual funding across a three-year period being granted by Ireland’s Minister of State for Sport, Physical Education and the Gaeltacht, Thomas Byrne.

Motorsport Ireland learned yesterday, Monday April 15, that this funding would require at least six further months of review, meaning the deadline for Ireland to formally bid for a WRC calendar slot in 2025 could not be met.

But WRC Promoter events director Simon Larkin has confirmed that Ireland is free to try again for the 2026 season and remains under consideration for inclusion in the future, should funding be secured.

“We are disappointed with this news, particularly following the hard work of Motorsport Ireland led by President Aiden Harper,” Larkin told DirtFish.

“We will continue to work with Motorsport Ireland and Minster Byrne to consider what options could be available for 2026 and beyond for this event to join the WRC calendar.

“We still believe strongly that Ireland would be a great addition to the WRC, and that the WRC would be a great addition for Ireland, but we have strong demand for slots and we must move on with our own planning.”

Paraguay is known to be one of the countries vying for one of those slots, though DirtFish understands its odds of making the calendar as soon as 2025 are also in question. Saudi Arabia is believed to be another event hoping to step up to next year’s WRC calendar.

Words:Alasdair Lindsay