POOLE’S annual motor rally event – which recently lost its long-running sponsorship from Sunseeker – is worth £1.2million to the Dorset economy, a report suggests.

The Daily Echo revealed on Friday that the Poole luxury yacht maker, which was taken over by a Chinese company last year, was ending its 15-year relationship with the event.

A report by students at Bournemouth University’s Centre for Event and Sport Research analysed the economic benefits of the hosting the final stages of the MSA British and Historic Rally Championships.

The report, based on face-to-face interviews at the 2013 Rallye Sunseeker, says the benefit from spectators, competitors and activities came to £1.2million.

There were 20,000 spectators over the two days, spending around £614,000, and 1,784 attendees and officials spending £516,000 on accommodation, food and transport, the research suggests.

This year’s event, to be renamed Rallye Dorset, will take place on October 17-18. It will see the final round of the MSA British Historic Rally Championship and MSA British Rally Championship.

Rick Smith, event director for organiser the Southern Car Club, said: “We are often applauded for bringing real financial benefits to the region. The Bournemouth University independent research and report has now confirmed this.

“£1.2million of inward income is very much in line with patterns seen on other British Rally Championship rounds, so we are certain that they are a true trend, and we trust that the region gets behind us to ensure the future of the rally.”

Bruce Grant-Braham, chairman of Poole Tourism Partnership, said: "The British Rally Championship's annual visit to Poole has boosted tourism out-of-season and fills many tourist beds across the county.

“A sizeable number of spectators come from all across southern England for the day too – day visitors being a key tourist market for Poole. Not only that, there is huge local interest in this major event from local residents.”