WRC to reveal 2024 calendar in September

WRC to reveal 2024 calendar in September

The 13-round schedule for the World Rally Championship’s coming season will be revealed in September, according to the sport’s event director.

There won’t be a trip to the USA or Saudi Arabia, but there could be a return to Argentina or Poland. It is believed that Poland is the most probable alternative.

Monte Carlo, Sweden, Croatia, Portugal, Sardinia, Kenya, Finland (which recently extended until 2026), Greece, Chile, the Central European Rally, and Japan are all scheduled to continue hosting events in 2023.

The possibility of Mexico maintaining its spot on the schedule is growing less plausible, while Latvia has long been accepted as Estonia’s substitute.

For 2024, WRC Promoter had been aiming for a 14-event calendar, but Simon Larkin, the event’s director, has stated that the requirement to include more Rally1 vehicles in the championship has caused him to stick with 13.

“Our plan is to stay with 13, and the reason to stay with 13 is that we believe it’s in the best interest of the championship that we, together with the manufacturers, are taking the best steps to increase the number of cars in the P1 (manufacturer drivers) field,” Larkin told DirtFish.com.

“And that means having the best possible calendar that allows them to invest, allows us to invest as well because we are working on plans where we will also be involved in additional cars for the championship and that means having a relatively stable calendar.

“That’s where we are. Our plan is still to do it at the end of August.

“We’ll be ready for an announcement, we hope, September 1 or September 2, so the week before Acropolis Rally.”

The earliest that Rally USA will appear on the WRC calendar is 2025. According to Larkin, part of the plan involves delaying America’s entry by at least a year.

“We can go to the US and we can do a rally next year,” Larkin explained. “But we don’t want to just go to the US and do a rally and do a sporting event.

“We have to go there and do a proper event that’s going to have all the bells and whistles around it.

Chile is committed to getting involved in the WRC until at least 2025 due to an existing multi-year agreement.

México had been poised to keep its spot if Rally USA wasn’t going to be added to the 2024 schedule, but it now seems that if the WRC is to have two rallies in the Americas, it will return to Argentina.

“It’s still a possibility to have two events in the Americas next year, absolutely yes,” Larkin confirmed, but when asked if that meant México or Argentina, he spoke only about Argentina. “That would always be our intention, whether that’s next year or whenever, to pair Chile and Argentina.

“Everyone wants to see the return of Argentina for sure [but] it has to be done in the right conditions.

“There are some challenges with the government at the moment, the economy’s not great and they’ve just gone through a whole bunch of elections there.

“But like we did in 2019 the logistical synergy of pairing Argentina and Chile is fantastic. It worked really well in 2019 and we foresee that for the future.

“There’s challenges, so we want to do it right.”

Rally Poland has been missing on the World Rally Championship schedule since 2017, but it appears to be in a strong position to make a comeback next year.

Its inclusion might result in three quick gravel rallies on the 2024 calendar. However, Poland’s proposed inclusion would not remove it from the ERC, where it has participated since 2018.

“The return of Poland to the World Rally Championship has always been a target of ours for the last couple of years,” Larkin said. “If we can do it next year we think it’s an opportunity we should embrace.

“If not, our target was always 2025. And to answer from Iain [Campbell ERC championship manager]’s point-of-view, if Poland came into the WRC it doesn’t mean Poland wouldn’t be in the ERC.

“It’s a critical market. Look at the number of competitors we have, look at the audience, the events are very, very well run.

“The knowledge of the sport in Poland is exceptional, we have our new TV partner Motovisia there which takes everything that we’ve got and is getting extensively high numbers of audience.

“It’s a great market for everyone. M-Sport Poland is based there. We’ve got Miko Marczyk, we’ve got Kajto [Kajetanowicz], it’s an interesting market for everyone.

“The event there, putting aside the safety challenges of the last year [in WRC], was always a huge event and we still see it with ERC.”

The FIA issued Rally Poland a warning in 2015 due to issues with spectator control.

There were also serious safety concerns in 2017 with reports of a fire vehicle entering a live stage in the wrong direction and spectators disobeying marshals by standing too close to the action. However, Larkin is certain that this is no longer a problem.

“Everything has moved on since then,” he said. “The rally watch program that we work with the FIA on with, Nicolas Klinger [provides] all the procedures and policies.

“The PZM, Polish motorsport federation, have done an exceptional job of improving every part of their event management and safety management over the years in ERC, and that ERC event has been run to the highest standards in the ERC, no question.”

Campbell added: “The safety delegate report on both years we’ve been there has said that the safety manual has been the highest standard one, and should be used as the template for all of our events.”

The Safari event used to be staged after Sweden and Monte Carlo over Easter weekend, but since 2001 it has become a summer event in the World Rally Championship.

Since then, however, it has taken place in the early spring as a component of the local Kenyan championship, and there is a chance that the Safari will take place next year as well.

“We’ve never shied away, and nor has the minister, even the president at this year’s Safari Kenya,” he added. “To say that the Easter-ish time of the year is the old school, traditional time and it’s something that we’re looking at.

“Whether that’s for next year or the future, to absolutely move it back to that Easter weekend is an ambition, yes, it’s being considered.”

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