Jari-Matti Latvala loves a rally. We all know that. But a round of the World Rally Championship in the United States of America? He can think of 300 million reasons why that’s a good idea.
As DirtFish outlined on Thursday, the foundations are being laid for a first WRC return to the USA since 1988. Chattanooga, Tennessee will host two events (April and September) in the lead-up to a potential world championship event next year.
Predictably, the manufacturers are keen to find a way to the USA and a car market which sold close to three million motors in 2022.
“The important thing is that we can run the WRC in every continent, and I think that would be really, really cool – and we haven’t really been in the US,” Latvala told DirtFish.
“I think it was run two times in the 1980s, so a long, long time ago. But there is 300 million people living in the US and it’s a big car market, so I think it’s an important thing that we would have a rally over there.”
M-Sport’s Ford alliance makes America something of a slam dunk for Richard Millener.
“It’s obviously important for us with the link to Ford, that goes without saying,” he said. “But I think the bigger picture is going to North America to grow the sport in a market that doesn’t really see it so much at the moment.
“I think there would still be a lot of hurdles to get past if we did get to North America, but it would be very good for the sport and would hopefully get a few people inspired to join WRC that way.
“And it’s been somewhere we’ve needed to go for a long time, so I hope WRC and the promoter and FIA can find a way to get there as quick as possible.”
Hyundai team principal Cyril Abiteboul is well acquainted with global motorsport’s impact on America.
“The US market is maybe the second market in the world, so for any car company and in particular for any global car company it’s a very important market.
“You know that my background before is Formula 1 and it was very clear that if you want to build a global sports property you have to think about the States and the way that the States are fantastic at marketing sports properties.
“So, yeah, I’m very much in favor of making sure that we do it, but we do it right also.”
The WRC is currently in North America for Rally México, a regular event on the calendar since its arrival in 2004 but absent from the schedule for the last two years during the COVID-19 pandemic.