In a story revealed by the folks at Autosport, the Rally of Great Britain has been saved this year after a funding boost from the MSA which happens to be the British motorsport governing body. The Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) and the MSA are currently engaged in a battle over the rally after the Welsh decided to drop the event from its funding list.
The battle had taken its roots in 2007 when an agreement was signed that saw funding from WAG last for five years. However, the FIA has made things very difficult as it always does. Because of their desire to see the championship rotate through 22 countries, the round was originally dropped from the 2010 calendar. The WAG then got a potential deal put together to host the Ryder Cup Golf Tournament. This teamed with the prospect of no Rally GB in 2010 really had the Welsh trying to bow out of the contractual agreement early. So in response, the WAG up and dropped funding for the 2009 round. The MSA has now countered the lack of funding by paying 2.2 million pounds to keep the event on track for this year. The MSA blamed good management and a surplus in the budget as a reason to pay the fee. Currently the MSA are pressing the WAG heavily in court due to the breach in contract which I think to this point has been obvious.
The reason for all of this can be traced back to the common enemy that all FIA series have, and that is the FIA itself. Due to the percieved need to rotate the calendar on a yearly basis, we now have rallies being alienated and running into financial trouble. Point and case is Monaco, because of the setup of the FIA’s WRC calendar no rally can have a stable plan. That and the fact that the FIA is trying to spread the WRC to other countries such as Russia leaves some of the legacy events off the schedule. Funny thing is that these new rallies cannot even get ready to be put on the schedule which brings in the next problem. Depending on the British court systems, funding may end up being a problem for next year as well. Due to Russia and Malaysia not being ready to go, Rally GB has a very strong possibility of coming back next year. The MSA needs to wrap up the case in time to ensure the rally is on the schedule and hits no snags. The way things look now, the promoters of the sport now have a mere four months to prepare the stages for action. Rally GB has been a great event year in and out and the loss of this event would be a big blow to the calendar and the series as a whole. Time will tell for next year, but this year is safe for now.