Rally GB warned about Wales future
In a week when Rally GB's immediate future is expected to be decided, the World Rally Championship's promoter has warned against the event remaining in Wales until 2011.
Rally GB chief executive Andrew Coe has consistently stated his desire to remain in the Welsh capital for the full length of the Welsh Assembly Government's agreement with International Motor Sports (IMS), the commercial arm of the rally.
The original contract between IMS and the WAG was until the end of 2011, but the WAG is believed to have terminated that contract early. The two parties are meeting this week to solve the dispute before it heads into court. The WAG is thought to be keen to escape the contract as soon as possible and is seeking a settlement with IMS.
WRC promoter Simon Long has warned that Coe's hard-line stance of no negotiation on a potential early pull-out of Wales after this October's event could have serious consequences for Britain's continued position in the championship for 2010 and beyond.
Long said: "If this event were to remain in Wales we would expect to see a significant changes. The quality would have to be raised across the board. You only have to look at the way the other events are raising their games to become world-class - we have concerns about the ability of Rally GB to do that in Wales.
"Undoubtedly, remaining in Wales would call into question Rally GB's long-term future in the World Rally Championship. How could it not' When we have so many events, really strong, exceptional quality events fighting for a slot on the calendar. The bar has been raised here."
Long added that his preferred option would be a shift out of Wales for next year's event - where he felt he could return Britain's round of the world championship to its status of previous years.
He added: "We are in discussion with a number of parties in the north of England with a view to re-establishing Great Britain as one of the pre-eminent rallies on the calendar. I'm very optimistic about the possibility of bringing new parties to the equation to make this rally bigger and better for the rallying public of Britain from 2010 onwards."
With the start of the event just 15 weeks away, Rally GB is expected to be launched to the public on Thursday, when the route and ticket prices will be revealed.