World Rally Championship: ‘Hopes are high’ for Ireland return

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There is increasing optimism that the World Rally Championship could return to Northern Ireland for next year.

The launch of a report by a motorsport taskforce has fuelled hopes that Rally GB will switch from Wales to Northern Ireland in 2020.

The cross-border Rally Ireland appeared on the WRC calendar in 2007 and 2009.

WRC driver Kris Meeke believes the work of the taskforce means that Northern Ireland can have a “prosperous future” on the motorsport circuit.

“There are more and more team members from Northern Ireland working in the WRC and coming out to spectate,” said Meeke on the passion for rallying in Northern Ireland.

“I’ve been following the work of the taskforce closely and it’s important that they get the necessary support so they can implement it in the near future.”

The Taskforce, which was chaired by DUP MP Ian Paisley, investigated the economic impact of motorsport in Northern Ireland, as well as various safety issues, and has challenged the government to invest more into the sport.

There has also been speculation that Corisca and the German rounds could lose their spots on the WRC calendar, opening up the opportunity for a new tarmac round of the championship.

WRC in Ireland would be ‘ultimate dream’

Bobby Willis, event director of the Circuit of Ireland, says that his team has been working hard to make it a reality.

“Hopes are massively high,” said Willis. “Everything is realistic and we’re certainly all working hard.

“Hopefully once we’re through the feasibility study we can keep pushing on.

“We can’t say too much until that study takes place but we’re all hopeful that it can happen.”

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