If you’re a rally fan in the north Wales town of Llandudno, this hasn’t been a good week for you. First the opening round of the British Rally Championship – the Cambrian Rally – was lost to the seaside resort and now Britain’s World Rally Championship counter is following.
Forget that Rally GB’s Deeside service park was considered to be in the middle of nowhere 12 months ago, we’re back there in October.
Money was front and centre in the reason for the Cambrian’s decision to ditch its plans to host service in the middle of the town. Is it the same for Rally GB? Depends who you ask.
Certainly Rally GB organisers make no mention of the saving the move from Llandudno to Deeside will provide to this season’s budget.
Instead, the focus is on a high tide.
This is the second year in succession the Irish Sea has spoiled Rally GB’s plans. The Sunday morning run of the popular Great Orme stage was lost to underwater currents last October, leaving angry fans with no access to alternative stages.
On the move back inland to Deeside, Motorsport UK chief executive Hugh Chambers said: “Having been made to feel so brilliantly welcome in Llandudno last year, this was a very hard decision to make.
“However, this is a major world championship event with a massive global TV audience and, having taken advice from all the experts, the responsible decision has led us back to Deeside for 2020.
“This is a well-proven option providing the rally with a more suitable geographical location given the time of year.”
The potential for the highest of autumn tides combined with strong wind could have flooded sections of the Llandudno promenade, the area used for the service park. Last year’s event ran at the start of October and the tide was a concern then, moving later in October makes it more of a risk.
The plan had been to relocate the manufacturers onto the promenade this year, with the teams all in favour of such a move. The north end of the promenade, which would have housed the manufacturer teams, is understood to have been the section most at risk of flooding.
DirtFish’s sources are frustrated there wasn’t a deeper investigation of ways to keep the event’s base in Llandudno – most likely with the possibility running the service access road on the sea side of promenade to buy extra space.
Route co-ordinator Andrew Kellitt has become intimately acquainted with every open space in north Wales in his search for an alternative area in or around Llandudno, but there simply isn’t one.
The move back to Deeside will help the event run more time efficiently, with access to the mid-Wales stages more straightforward with the use of main roads.
Overwhelmingly among series stakeholders the move back to Deeside is seen as a negative. That such a view is shared by the event’s hierarchy doesn’t make it easier to swallow.
Yes, it’s easier to get folk in and out of Deeside, but the move also serves to smudge the painting of the bigger picture.