Motorsport Ireland have confirmed that they have withdrawn their bid to host the World Rally Championship.


In January, it was announced that Waterford, along with Limerick and Tralee, would each host a stage of the competition within the next three years.


This news was met with widespread positivity, with many public representatives citing the potential economic impact of the event.


However, Motorsport Ireland were unable to secure Government funding in time, and have as a result, withdrawn their bid.


They first approached the Government in early 2023 and in June of that year, had what they described as a “fruitful meeting” with Minister of State for Sport, Physical Education and the Gaeltacht, Thomas Byrne.


In the meeting, Motorsport Ireland were complimented by Minister Byrne on submitting a funding request early for a 2025 event.


After the meeting, they were referred to the Major Sports Events Unit whom they engaged with and submitted a full event screening application on 6 October 2023.


The World Rally Championship promoter set an operational deadline of March 2024 for the securing of funding.


The deadline was flagged in Motorsport Ireland’s event screening application and in all subsequent communications to the Department.


Due to having received no update from the Department by the Q1 deadline, Motorsport Ireland requested, and were granted, an extension of a fortnight from the promoter.


On Monday, April 15, Motorsport Ireland finally received confirmation from Minister Byrne that his Department would need “at least six months” to undertake further independent economic assessments and analysis of the proposal.


As a result, Ireland is no longer being considered to host a round of the FIA World Rally Championship in 2025.


Motorsport Ireland say they have received no questions or feedback on any of the documents submitted, despite multiple communications to the Department asking if additional information was required.


Motorsport Ireland President Aiden Harper described the situation as a “great shame”.

Mr Harper said: “I am saddened that it has come to this but unfortunately, we are left with no option.”


“We always stated that the FIA World Rally Championship could only come to Ireland with the financial support of Government while always being aware that the funding may not be forthcoming.”


“It is a great shame to have to hand this great opportunity, and the economic benefit it would bring, over to another awaiting country.”


Despite the failure of the bid, Mr Harper thanked those involved in the process.


“In January of this year, Motorsport Ireland announced the three regions, Kerry, Limerick and the South East, that would host the events should funding be secured.”


“Non-inclusion in 2025 is in no way any reflection on any of those areas. The work that has been put in by them has been incredible and I thank them for that.”


“I would like to thank the WRC Promoter GmbH, especially Simon Larkin, for all his assistance throughout this process and hopefully we will be in a position to revisit this magnificent opportunity in the future.”


“For now, we will continue as always to deliver our motorsport calendar here in Ireland, to the highest standards, across all our disciplines,” he concluded.


Waterford Independent TD Matt Shanahan has expressed similar frustration at the failure of the bid.


Deputy Shanahan said: “There’s no excuse for this rally roadblock, and civil servants shouldn’t be blamed.”


“The obvious economic benefits of an event like this are evident to all but the Government leadership.”


“I have been in contact with Minister Byrne to try to secure a positive announcement, and I contacted all government leadership over the weekend as I knew that decision time was imminent, but they remained conspicuously silent.”


Deputy Shanahan said that the situation was another example of the lack of Government investment in Waterford and the South East.


“It is truly astounding to witness the overspends that have been allowed in Cabinet constituency projects without a word of comment, and yet value-for-money metrics are scrutinised at every turn once a project like this is mentioned.”


“This represents a complete dereliction of government responsibility in terms of supporting the southeast region economy and the development of our tourism and amenity offerings,” he concluded.


Motorsport Ireland have said they appreciate Minister Byrne’s commitments to undertaking the necessary assessments of such proposals.


They will continue to communicate with his Department and the World Rally Championship promoter to explore the possibility of hosting the competition another year.