Ireland’s bid to return to the World Rally Championship has stepped up with the inspection of three prospective venues being carried out this week.

Ireland has emerged as a candidate to rejoin the WRC calendar from as early as next year, having previously hosted WRC rounds in 2007 and 2009, both won by Sebastien Loeb.

WRC officials revealed last year at the Acropolis Rally that Ireland was a potential viable candidate with discussions underway regarding a new project.

Since then, Motorsport Ireland issued a letter of intent to its member motorsport clubs notifying of a potential bid, while asking each region of the country to provide potential locations for a 10,000 square metre service park, rally headquarters and media centre.

Three locations have now been selected and put forward for inspections on Thursday and Friday this week, attended by members from WRC Promoter. It is understood a decision could be made next week, with a three-year deal the desired target.

According to a report by Irish broadcaster RTE Sport, Limerick, Kerry and Waterford are the proposed locations.

Joshua MCerlean, James Fulton at Central Europe Rally 2023

"Any one of them could be turned into a World Rally Championship service park. So we're now down to the final three and it will go through a process of elimination later on this week,” Motorsport Ireland president Aiden Harper told RTE Sport.

"I would be confident that we are pencilled in on a 2025 calendar right now, 2026 and 2027. And this is a three-year gig but it has the possibility of growing to a six or nine-year [plan] as we see all around the world there are countries who have been hosting WRC events for multiple, multiple years.

"And that's not to say that we cannot do the same."

The report also stated that Motorsport Ireland has consulted with the local government regarding funding and an application has been submitted. Harper claimed a figure of 15 million Euros is the required funding target for the event.

News of Ireland’s WRC bid follows a series of unsuccessful attempts to bring the WRC to Northern Ireland in recent years, which ultimately collapsed due to a lack of funding from the UK government.