by Rob Wilkins

Wales Rally GB boss Andrew Coe has said there is a 'possibility' that the Welsh-based event could still take place in 2010, even if it is not part of the World Rally Championship.

While it is not certain yet that Cardiff will miss out in two years time, provisionally at least, there is no slot for the round, nor is there one for the likes of Finland or the Acropolis - two of the other 'classics'.

Indeed under the rotation plan 24 different events are meant to take place in 2009 and 2010, with rounds in one year and off the next - something that will allow the FIA to reduce the number of events back to 12 per year, but still allow new countries into the fold.

"At the moment, on the calendar that has been published, we do not form a part of the World Rally Championship in 2010. But having said that, Wales Rally GB is certainly an event that is probably unique in the world in that, despite not having WRC status, it could be that we run it anyway - providing we had the continued backing of Wales," Coe confirmed to Radio.

"That is something we are working on and we are putting some plans together for what could happen in 2010.

"We are still working with the FIA and lobbying to make sure that if the calendar does change for 2010 - and there are some suggestions and it has been widely covered in the media, that the 2010 WRC calendar could still be subject to some changes. If that is the case, we would be delighted and we are pushing hard to be in there as part of the WRC.

"But even if we are not, we may find it is feasible to run a major event in Wales, based in Cardiff as normal, and still attract a very good value participation base from which we can run a very special event."

So could Wales Rally GB end up like the Monte in '09 and part of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge?

"Not necessarily the IRC. But I think there are a number of major events in the World Rally Championship that are tapping their fingers on the table and saying: 'What do we do?' As I said, because of the strength of our sport in the UK, it could be that we run a major event that wouldn't necessarily form part of the WRC," Coe continued.

"We wouldn't be setting a precedent either. Some people, with slightly older memories, might recall in 1995 or 1996 when the Network Q Rally, as it was then, wasn't formally part of the WRC.

"It did form part of the Production World Rally Championship. But despite not being a full WRC event it did take place and it was as good and as big as ever. People came to support it and what is upper most in our thinking is: 'Could we actually run a huge event of the scale of Wales Rally GB without necessarily being a points' scoring round of the WRC?' It is not something we have agreed to yet. But it is certainly a possibility."

As for the announcement this week that Scotland will host the final round of the IRC in 2009, Coe added it is not out of the question that it might one day rival WRGB - something that could put him in a tricky position, as he is involved with both events, as CEO of event organiser and promoter, International Motor Sports.

"Obviously the World Rally Championship is akin to the Premiership in football. It is the pinnacle of world rallying. But what I have been very impressed with here in Scotland in our dealings, especially over the last twelve months, is that there is a huge appetite for rallying," he stated.

"The pedigree and names associated with rallying and Scotland just come to mind immediately - and obviously Colin McRae would be at the top of that list. There is a will to make this happen.

"It is going to take a while to develop an event up to the standards of a WRC event. But I think if there is a will to do that - and certainly there is some world class stages and terrain here in Scotland - who knows what could happen. We will keep reviewing that over the next two to three years."




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