Rally Turkey holds the key to Ypres WRC slot

Ypres can only join the WRC calendar if Rally of Turkey's date is shifted forwards

Sebastien Ogier

Belgium’s dreams of hosting the World Rally Championship on October’s Ypres Rally depend on co-operation with Rally of Turkey and the Marmaris-based event moving forward one week in September.

Currently, the teams would finish competition in Asia on Sunday and need to be starting their recce in Ypres the following Wednesday. According to Ypres organizer Club Superstage president Alain Penasse, that time frame is simply too tight.

Asked by DirtFish about the chances of seeing Ypres ink its deal for a WRC slot, Penasse said: “We have to wait to see if it’s possible for Turkey to move, everything depends on that. If Turkey cannot move then it’s simply not possible for us to run. Everything hinges on that date. Without that, it’s not possible for the teams to get from there to Ypres.”

Moving the date for the all-asphalt Belgian event is not possible because of the rally’s dependency on the availability of the main square – which doubles as the service park.

Penasse added: “I need the main square in Ypres, but there are so many activities in Ypres – there’s always something to do. The week after they have a bike race, then there’s something else. It’s very complicated because normally we have the same date from year to year and normally it’s very easy – we block two weekends and everybody’s adapted to that. But now everybody has their event calendar and now we come in saying we need another date…”

Ott Tanak

Credit: Jaanus Ree / Red Bull Content Pool

Penasse’s team has already done all it can to compact Ypres Rally down. The recce will run Wednesday-Thursday, with a Friday morning shakedown as a precursor to a 48-hour WRC round. Penasse admitted the new format would require a different approach to shakedown.

“This is the risk the teams have to take. Some teams push to make it shorter and closer together, the chance to play is a lot less. OK, maybe the drivers have to drive in another way – the shakedown is just to see if the car is working well and not do a proper test or do the best time in the shakedown. It’s all in the spirit a little bit.”

Moving Turkey forwards from September 24-27 to 17-20 would bring it a week closer to Rally Estonia, which is proposed from September 4-6, but the teams are confident they can cope.

One source said: “We will re-prepare the cars in Estonia following the event and then take them directly to Turkey. It’s no problem to do this, we did this in Argentina before Chile last year.”

Another benefit would be the potential cost saving from the teams using their smaller-scale long-haul kit – which could stop off in Marmaris on the way to Japan – instead of the full European service park, which could be directed straight to Belgium.

Below is what’s considered the be the most likely to finish the 2020 WRC season:

September 4-6: Rally Estonia

September 24-27/17-20: Rally of Turkey

October 2-4: Ypres Rally

October 15-18: Rally Germany

October 29-November 1: Rally Italy

November 19-22: Rally Japan