Rallying: Belgium replaces Britain on world championship calendar

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LONDON (Reuters) - Belgium's Ypres rally will replace Britain on the world championship (WRC) calendar this season, organisers said on Friday.

The Belgian asphalt event will make its WRC debut in August with the date to be confirmed.

The British round, originally scheduled for Aug. 22, had been set to move from Wales to Northern Ireland but public funding proved a problem and it has now been deferred for the second year in a row.

"Against the economic backdrop of COVID-19, it is unfortunate that the requisite funding could not be agreed to secure the UK's position within the 2021 calendar," said Motorsport UK chief executive Hugh Chambers in a statement.

Last year's Rally Wales GB fell victim to the pandemic, with no round in Britain for the first time in more than 50 years.

The governing FIA said last October when the calendar was published that Turkey, Latvia, Belgium, Argentina, Greece and Monza in Italy could be slotted in if any confirmed events dropped off.

"It's sad the WRC will not enjoy the beauty of Northern Ireland this year, but the pandemic continues to impact the global economy," said Jona Siebel, WRC Promoter managing director.

"Our enthusiasm for a WRC round there remains strong and we look forward to continuing our discussions for 2022."

Rally Northern Ireland promoter Bobby Willis said Tourism Northern Ireland felt the event "would not represent best value for public money at this time."

The 2021 calendar features 12 rounds, nine in Europe. The season starts in Monte Carlo on Jan. 24.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Christian Radnedge)