Wales has thrown its hat into the ring to host a European Rally Championship round in a bid to bring top-level international rallying back to the UK.

The bid is centred around Rali Ceredigion, an asphalt event located around the seaside town of Aberystwyth, that is growing in stature since its inaugural edition in 2019.

This year the event [2-3 September] will host the fifth round of the British Rally Championship and a round of the FIA European Rally Trophy. Last year's rally was won by former works Hyundai WRC driver Hayden Paddon.  

However, organisers wish to take the rally to the next level, being the European Rally Championship, and have been working closely with regional stakeholders, including Ceredigion County Council, and commercial partners to secure the resources and infrastructure. 

It is hoped the event could secure a spot on the 2024 ERC calendar, which would bring international rallying back to Britain for the first time since the 2019 Wales Rally GB - the last time the World Rally Championship visited these shores.      

Wales hosted a WRC round from 2000-2019 until a loss of funding resulted in Britain losing its round of the world championship. Efforts to bring the WRC to Northern Ireland since have so far been thwarted by a lack of funding.  

Rali Ceredigion representatives attended the Royal Rally of Scandinavia ERC round in Sweden earlier this month, where they met with the championship promoter to discuss the event's future. 

"Every year we strive to innovate and drive our event forward, and fulfilling our ambition to become a round of the ERC is the next step in that progression," said Phil Pugh, chairman of the Rali Ceredigion organising team.

Petter Solberg at Rally Great Britain 2019

"Losing Wales Rally GB has been a significant setback for rallying in the UK and it's important that we, as event organisers and enthusiasts, do whatever we can to try and restore our place on an international championship. 

"In doing so, it would give UK competitors in supporting domestic championships a chance to pit themselves against a top-class ERC field.

"For decades, gravel stages in Wales were at the heart of UK WRC rounds. However, we can also offer a network of high-quality tarmac roads that provide a very different and unique, world-class challenge. Indeed, it's not unthinkable that Welsh public roads could see the return of WRC stars sometime in the future. 

"But for now, our target is to be an ERC round – sooner rather than later – and we're working diligently with key stakeholders such as Ceredigion County Council to secure a slot at the earliest opportunity. 

"Our visit to the Royal Rally resulted in some very useful discussions with the promoter and allowed us to see exactly what is required to deliver our strategy and make that happen."

Iain Campbell, FIA European Rally Championship Manager, added: "The WRC Promoter is regularly in conversations with interested parties to be part of the FIA European Rally Championship and it is of no secret that one of those interested is Rali Ceredigion. We will continue to hold an open dialogue to have a round of the ERC in the UK."

The bid has also gained support from Welshman and factory Toyota WRC driver Elfyn Evans, who believes this rally is worthy of a place on the ERC.  

"The UK desperately needs to get a rally reinstated back on an FIA calendar and Rali Ceredigion now looks like our best opportunity to achieve that," said Evans.

"The organisers comprise an experienced team of international competitors with great ambitions to take it forward. The stages are world-class, fast and technical with high levels of grip, making them challenging but very rewarding from a competitor's perspective."