The future of international rallying on the Isle of Man has been thrown into turmoil in recent weeks, culminating in the cancellation of the 2011 International Rally Isle of Man.
First run in 1963, the Manx event has been won by some of the greatest names in the sport including Colin McRae, Richard Burns, Roger Clark, An Vatanen, Henri Toivonen and Tony Pond. Only once before in 48 years had the rally been cancelled — in 2001 due to the foot and mouth epidemic.
The problems started when the island government and tourist board, which provide financial backing, dictated a late October date instead of the traditional July slot.
Faced with a likely poor entry from the British and British Historic championships due to the unpopular date, the organisers announced its demise a month ahead of the planned October 27-29 running. The BRC had already dropped the 2012 event from its schedule, but promised to review that decision for 2013 should a better date be confirmed.
Having now reached a watershed with the event, the organisers are battling to save highprofile rallying on the small island in the Irish Sea. Political pressure is being brought to bear on the island’s government to support a traditional mid-year date, but plans for 2012 have yet to be confirmed.
“We must now look at the best direction as we seek to provide a sustainable future for Rally Isle of Man,” said Brian Walton, chairman of the organising committee. “We hope that we can find a way forward in the best interests of the island and the event.”