The Ulster Rally will be the finale of the 2021 British Rally Championship, completing a six-round calendar that features four gravel and two asphalt rallies.
British championship organisers originally unveiled a seven-round calendar in December with three asphalt rallies at the head of the schedule before four further events in the forests.
However COVID-19 has resulted in the cancellation of the Circuit of Ireland, Tendring & Clacton and Jim Clark Rallies meaning the 2021 season will now begin with the Nicky Grist Stages in July.
As per the original schedule, the Grampian Forest Rally and Trackrod Rally Yorkshire will follow before the first asphalt rally – the Mull Rally. The Cambrian Rally and then the Ulster will close out the year.
British Rally Championship Manager Iain Campbell said: “It’s been an extremely tough time for all forms of motorsport over the past 12 months or so and the British Rally Championship hasn’t escaped the challenges caused by the pandemic.
“But we have been working very hard behind the scenes to create a calendar worthy of the British Championship title and I truly believe we have come up with an exciting, challenging yet cost-effective offering for our BRC top-flight, Juniors and National competitors.
“Of course, we were disappointed to lose the opening three rounds of the planned 2021 calendar and we were eager to ensure we could still provide a six-round series that encompassed both gravel and asphalt surfaces, as well as each event having a unique format and style.
“I’d like to thank all of the events in the calendar that have worked with us and it goes without saying that we are all looking forward to finally getting the season underway in Builth Wells in July.”
Reigning British champion Matt Edwards has been the only driver to publicly commit to the series this year, as he switches from his usual M-Sport Ford Fiesta Rally2 to a Volkswagen Polo GTI R5.
Josh McErlean – who was announced as a Hyundai Junior driver last week – is another that could appear on select rounds, and Rally Insight understands several others are weighing up an entry but have been waiting for the final calendar to be confirmed.
Ulster Rally organisers recently laid out plans to run a rally in 2021, but its inclusion on the BRC calendar guarantees the rally major championship status with the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship cancelled for the year.
The event has never run in November before so could prove a stern challenge for competitors with potentially adverse weather conditions. In hosting the final round, the Ulster Rally will also become the first-ever Irish or Northern Irish rally to hold the BRC season finale.
2021 British Rally Championship calendar:
Round 1 – Nicky Grist Stages, Builth Wells – 10 July
Round 2 – Grampian Forest Stages, Banchory – 14 August
Round 3 – Trackrod Rally Yorkshire, Scarborough – 24/25 September
Round 4 – Beatson’s Building Supplies Mull Rally, Isle of Mull – 8/9 October
Round 5 – Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally, Llandudno – 30 October
Round 6 – Today’s Ulster Rally, Newry – 19/20 November
Photo courtesy of British Rally Championship