Wales Rally GB will received a £1.4m funding boost from the Welsh Assembly next year Business Minister Edwina Hart has announced.
Ms Hart said:
“The value of the relationship between the staging of Wales Rally GB and Wales? automotive sector should not be underestimated. Wales Rally GB has significant links with the automotive sector in Wales, which is home to 150 component and systems manufacturing companies.”
30,000 people are employed in automotive manufacturing, retail and maintenance in Wales with an annual turn over of £3 billion.
The Minister added:
“The rally delivers benefits throughout Wales and has a strong tradition of involving volunteers from a wide range of groups. The organisers of Wales Rally GB have aimed to make the sport open and accessible to everyone.
“Developments such as the RallyFest events in Cardiff and north Wales are an added attraction for many. They have widened the Rally’s appeal to reach beyond the motorsport enthusiast and are a welcome boost for retailers and accommodation providers at a quieter time of year.”
This British leg of the World Rally Championship has exclusively been held in Wales since 2000, with this year’s competition covering a wider section of Wales than ever before.
Starting in Llandudno on Thursday, the event saw the return of the Great Orme stage for the first time since 1981. Drivers then competed through the traditional forest stages of north and mid-Wales.
The four-day event will come to a close in Cardiff this afternoon.
Eight-times World Champion Sebastien Loeb was forced to retire from the race this morning after a crash on the road section after SS18.
The Frenchman and his co-driver Daniel Elena were involved in a road crash in his Citroen leaving stage 18, Halfway.
No injuries were reported but Loeb’s car was too badly damaged for him to continue to the next stage, Crychan.
A Citroen Total World Rally Team spokesperson said:
“The other car was coming towards Seb and Dani on the wrong side of the road. It’s not possible to make repairs, they are out of the rally.”
Speaking after stage 19 race leader Jari-Matti Latvala said : “I’m taking it a bit easy now that Loeb is out, but there are quite a few stages to go.”
Loeb took his eighth World Championship on Friday after contender Mikko Hirvonen was forced to retire because of radiator problems.