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Page last updated at 08:44 GMT, Thursday, 22 October 2009 09:44 UK

British rally Welsh venue doubt

WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP - RALLY OF GREAT BRITAIN
Date: Thursday, 22 October - Sunday, 25 October
Coverage: Live on S4C, Eurosport and Dave and highlights on BBC TWO Wales on Monday 2330-0020 and updates on rallygb.org


Swedish Rally driver, Per-Gunnar Andersson of the Suzuki team
The rally has several stages across south and mid Wales

The 2009 Rally of Great Britain will begin in Cardiff on Friday with the future of the event continuing to be staged in Wales still in doubt.

The 65th GB rally only goes ahead in Wales as the Motor Sports Association agreed to underwrite the event costs.

The uncertainty of the rally remaining in Wales began in April when the Welsh assembly government withdrew its £2.2m funding for the sporting showpiece.

The rally, which has enjoyed a 10-year stay in Wales, could move next year.

This year's Rally of Great Britain - which has had the word Wales ominously removed from all of its branding - will enjoy its opening ceremony in Cardiff Bay on Thursday but there is a dark cloud over its future.

The MSA, UK motor sport's governing body, had said they took the decision to give this year's rally in Wales emergency funding "for the good of the sport".

And event organiser International Motor Sports, MSA's commercial arm, is taking legal action against the government.

The assembly government had an agreement to provide the rally with £2.2m for three years from 2008-9, but in April withdrew the funding after saying the rally had been downgraded to non-world championship status.

A Welsh Assembly Government spokesperson said: "Discussions are ongoing with the Wales GB Rally organisers."

The GB rally is the 12th and final round of the World Rally Championship and, ironically, it is set to be a classic as Finland's Mikko Hirvonen leads second-place Sebastien Loeb by just a point.

But the French driver has history of winning in Wales as he won last year's event.



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see also
Rally GB rescue after funding cut
10 Jun 09 |  Wales
Rally threat after 2m grant axed
15 Apr 09 |  Wales
Rally star's 50,000 car stolen
17 Feb 09 |  Mid Wales
Rally star's hope after car taken
29 Aug 08 |  Mid Wales


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