Cross-country rallying will officially become a world championship discipline from 2022, starting with the famous Dakar Rally, following an agreement between the FIA and the Amaury Sport Organisation.
The announcement, made on Thursday, comes after an e-vote by the members of the World Motor Sport (WMSC) last week, elevating what is currently the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies to full world championship status.
Having signed a five-year deal, the ASO will become the exclusive promoter of the new world championship, which will incorporate the Dakar Rally.
In addition, world titles for the overall winning driver, co-driver and manufacturer as well as FIA Championships for all other categories including a manufacturers crown in T4 and T5.
I am delighted of the outcome of long and fruitful discussions with A.S.O.Jean Todt
Yann Le Moënner, CEO of Amaury Sport Organization, said: “At a time when cross-country is undergoing a fundamental transformation, the creation of an FIA World Championship is excellent news for the development of our discipline.
“As its exclusive promoter, A.S.O. is proud to integrate the Dakar Rally into the FIA World Championship calendar and will work to promote the events in order to better showcase the technical expertise of the car manufacturers taking part in these rallies in extreme conditions.
“The World Championship will accompany them in this progressive transition to alternative energies, with the FIA integrating categories and classifications specific to these new technologies into the technical regulations.”
Cross-country will therefore become the seventh official FIA World Championship, joining the World Rally Championship, World Rallycross Championship, Formula 1, Formula E, World Endurance Championship and the World Karting Championship.
Jean Todt, FIA president, added: “I am delighted of the outcome of long and fruitful discussions with A.S.O., which becomes the promoter of the FIA World Rally Championship for cross-country rallying, with a calendar that includes the famous Dakar.”
As part of the deal with the ASO and the FIA, common sporting and technical regulations will be introduced, ensuring “consistency for competitors across all events.”
The FIA is also working on a new set of technical regulations to cater for the future of the Dakar Rally, which focuses on alternative energy and experimental technologies, starting with the arrival of Green Corp Konnection’s bioethanol fueled car and Audi’s electric prototype from next year.
As for the calendar for the new world championship, a five-round season is expected in 2022, starting with the Dakar in January. More information on the exact calendar is expected in due course.
As revealed by the ASO last November, all vehicles will be required to switch to alternative energy by 2030, with elite cars and trucks to transfer to non-combustion powertrains by 2026.
The inaugural world championship season will be open to all classes in the car and SSV categories, including T1, T2, T3 and T4.
The FIA announcement stated: “The T3 and T4 categories, in particular, will also benefit from further development under this agreement, and new FIA regulations for T5 Prototype Trucks will be published for 2022, ensuring the inclusivity of all vehicle categories for professionals and amateurs in the World Championship.”