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Government to assess Rally Ireland's 2026 WRC bid

Sebastien Loeb in action at 2007 Rally Ireland
Ireland last hosted the World Rally Championship in 2007 and 2009 [Getty Images]

Motorsport Ireland's bid to host the World Rally Championship has been renewed and will be assessed by the Irish government, with the door opened for 2026.

A proposal to host the WRC on a three-year deal, rotating between Waterford, Kerry and Limerick, from 2025 fell through in April over a lack of funding.

However, recent negotiations with the WRC's commercial arm WRC Promoter GmbH means the potential to host rallying's premier championship in 2026 has resurfaced and Motorsport Ireland says it will "continue to engage" with the Irish government.

In order for funding to be granted, Motorsport Ireland has been informed by Thomas Byrne, minister for the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, that an independent economic analysis and business case will take place.

“This is a progressive step in Motorsport Ireland’s plans to bring the World Rally Championship back to this island," said Motorsport Ireland president Aiden Harper.

"Over the last month we have had constructive discussions with Minister Byrne and WRC Promoter and we look forward to assisting Department officials with any additional information they require while carrying out their analysis."

The analysis will include an inventory of the services required to be provided by the government, an assessment of the economic benefits and the sustainability of the event.

Harper added: "I greatly appreciate Minister Byrne’s commitment to undertaking the necessary assessments to consider an event of this nature.

"Ireland has demonstrated it can hold international motorsport events in the past and I have no doubt we will again in the future.”

Rally Ireland was last part of the WRC calendar in 2007 and 2009.