Uncertainty shrouds RallyScotland 2012posted in RSCOT25 | 10 | 2011

    THE FUTURE OF RALLYSCOTLAND — despite receiving a barrage of praise from drivers, teams, fans and the world’s media — remains as vague as the autumn mists which shrouded a number of the forest stages in this month's event.

    Britain's only round of the Intercontinental Rally Championship is currently an uncertain inclusion on the provisional IRC calendar for 2012.

    As in the previous two years, the three-day event — which generates millions of pounds for the Scottish economy and delivers priceless tourism exposure around the world by dint of the live TV coverage to 70 countries — lost money again this year.

    But two weeks after Norway's Andreas Mikkelsen stood on the top step at the awards ceremony at Scone Palace after winning in his Skoda GB Motorsport Fabia, last-minute talks are underway in an effort to save the event.

    Although the world class rally is flawlessly organised in Scotland by Inverness-based Clerk of the Course, Iain Campbell, and his crew, the overall decision-making remains with the Slough-based Motor Sports Association.

    The MSA — which also oversees the British Formula One Grand Prix and Wales Rally GB, next month's final round of the World Rally Championship — is now battling to attract both sponsorship, and a mix of public and private funding.

    Over the initial three years of RallyScotland, which ran for the first time in October 2009, funding has come from EventScotland, and both Perthshire and Stirling councils.

    Mikkelsen powers Skoda to RallyScotland win

    But with the public purses coming under ever-greater scrutiny, the desire to attract sponsorship and funding — it's understood there is a £250,000 shortfall for next year's budget — has intensified.

    "Ideally, we would like to replace public funding with commercial revenue," Andrew Coe, chief executive of the MSA's commercial division, International Motor Sports, admitted.

    "Of course we are in talks with EventScotland and the two councils to maintain their support, but ideally we would like to replace public funding with commercial revenue.

    "In the current climate though, it is very difficult. We would ask anyone with a vested interest in the health of motorsport in the UK to come forward and support it.”

    In complete contrast to the continued financial failings of the event, RallyScotland has rapidly accelerated to become one of the jewels in the IRC crown.

    This year, only the season-opening event in Monaco could rival the splendour and efficiency of the Scottish event.

    And with the IRC's season finale in Cyprus only eight days away, RallyScotland's chief orchestrator Campbell is keen to know what the future holds for his event.

    We test RallyScotland-winning Skoda ... sort of!

    “The teams have all come back and said, of the three events to date which have been held in Scotland, this month's is the one they have enjoyed the most,” the Highlander said.

    "Everyone on the event’s organising team has also said the same – because they had experience of the previous two years, they were able to raise their own game and be more confident in certain situations and in their own abilities.

    “We all take a great deal of satisfaction from having taken what was a blank piece of paper and turned it into what’s firmly established as one of the IRC’s top events of the year.”

    So keen is the IRC to retain RallyScotland in its calendar that the unreleased provisional list of dates places the Scots event second on the list, provisionally in February next year.

    Initially a March date had been mooted. But with a number of the Scottish forest stages running through the natural reserve of the Capercaillie — which starts its breeding season in March — the Spring date was ruled out.

    But what is clear is that there remains something of a pregnant pause in proceedings, and to the subsequent confirmation of the 2012 calendar, as the future of RallyScotland continues to cause financial headaches.

    Scottish Secretary to fight for RallyScotland 2012

    Keep up-to-date with all the latest news by following us on twitter.com/scotcars

    Jim McGill


User Comments

Login or register to post comments.