The World Rally Championship is set to return to Ireland for the first time in 13 seasons as motorsport’s governing body, the FIA, is lining up Northern Ireland as a stage for the 2022 season.
British publication Motorsport News reports that the FIA World Motorsport Council has approved another 13-round WRC season, and sources suggest that the inclusion of Rally Northern Ireland is a formality once Government funding is approved.
The Belfast counter is set to be a Tarmac event to be held as the ninth round of the 2022 championship from August 18-21, which will be the first in the WRC’s hybrid era. It will be the first time the sport has held a stage in Ireland since various North-West counties held Rally Ireland in 2009, which was based in Sligo.
It is believed the inclusion of Irish duo Craig Breen and Paul Neagle as full-time drivers with M-Sport has helped the Northern Ireland Rally reach the calendar, and will be the first time the UK has held a stage since Welsh-based Rally GB ended in 2019.
However it faces a challenge to remain a long-term fixture as some FIA chiefs have stated they would like to see a 50/50 split in the future between events held in and outside Europe. As it stands, nine of the 12 confirmed events for 2022 are European.