However, following some scheduling challenges, organiser International Motor Sports (IMS) has confirmed that the Rally of Scotland, a round of the high-profile Intercontinental Rally Challenge, will take a break in 2012.
IMS has been in discussion with IRC promoter Eurosport Events to move the event from its traditional October date to a much earlier slot in the calendar. This would have eased pressures on the Scottish and UK rallying communities which, due to an increasing number of events, have faced difficulties in attracting competitors and marshals during the late autumn and early winter.
Unfortunately, making the switch so early for 2012 has not proved possible. Instead IMS, Eurosport Events and event partners are already progressing plans for 2013 and beyond, with a view to building on the strong foundations that are already in place.
The Rally of Scotland has run three times to date - in 2009, 2010 and 2011 - as a round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC). Supported by national events agency EventScotland, Stirling and Perth & Kinross councils and Forestry Commission Scotland, it has quickly become a favourite fixture for many of the world-class rally drivers who have competed on it as well as thousands of visiting motor sport fans.
IMS Chief Executive Andrew Coe commented: "It is with a very heavy heart we have had to take this course of action for 2012. Knowing what this event has come to mean to competitors, motor manufacturers, motor sport fans and Scotland as a nation, we are already actively working with our enthusiastic partners to ensure the event returns to the IRC calendar. They all want to see it back even bigger and stronger in 2013.
"Realistically, February was the only other month we could have run the event next year as legislation protecting local wildlife precludes us from rallying in the Scottish forests from March through to September and we are totally respectful of that. I believe we have one of the best organising teams of any motor sport event in the world - not just in the IRC but in any sport out there - but putting on the event in February has not proved possible. It would be much better for us to channel our energies and know-how into developing the event for the future."
Paul Bush OBE, Chief Operating Officer of EventScotland added: "The Rally of Scotland has been, over the last three years, a superb addition to Scotland's event calendar and has clearly helped in our work to position Scotland as the perfect stage for events.
"As we come to the end of the initial three-year deal, the excitement and enthusiasm for the rally has been superb and it is unfortunate that for a number of reasons it has not been possible to align all the interests of the different parties involved to enable the event to take place in 2012. However, our working relationship with International Motor Sports and the other partners remains strong and we share its goal not only to see this event back in Scotland in the future but also to continue to grow our motor sports event portfolio."
Francois Ribeiro, Motorsport Development Director, Eurosport Events which promotes the IRC added: "Rally of Scotland has provided Eurosport with some spectacular landscape and great action for its live television coverage. It's also been a challenging event for the drivers. I would like to thank EventScotland for its support. We will maintain a close dialogue with the event promoter and would consider the rally's return to the IRC calendar in the future."