POOLE’S annual rallying event has ended its long-running relationship with Sunseeker.

The name of Rallye Sunseeker has been a big event on the calendar in Dorset for 15 years, but now Sunseeker, which was taken over by a Chinese firm last year, has decided to channel its marketing cash elsewhere.

Scheduled this year for October 17 and 18, the final round of the MSA British Rally Championship and the MSA British Historic Rally Championship is to be renamed Rallye Dorset.

Organisers said that the decision had been made in consultation with tourism partners, “reflecting the contribution the rally makes to the county”.

Independent research, soon to be published by Bournemouth University, is set to reinforce the economic benefits that Rallye Dorset brings to the regional economy, they said.

Sunseeker International MD Stewart McIntyre said: “We are proud to have been title sponsor over the last 15 years and to watch the event evolve and grow.

“It certainly proved very successful in raising the profile of the company not only locally but within the motor sport environment as a whole.”

Event director Rick Smith added: “I think I speak not only for Southern Car Club, but also for rally sport in the UK when I say how much the Sunseeker brand has become synonymous with excellence in organisation and the promotion of our sport.

“The support and investment provided by them has enabled us to build a rally which ranks alongside the best, not only in the UK but in Europe.

“We are desperately sad to see Sunseeker go, but of course respect the company’s business decision.

“We wish them every success in the future.”