Saudi Arabia confirms its WRC ambitions

It plans to hold a candidate event in 2023

Molly Taylor (AUS)/Johan Kristoffersson (SWE), Rosberg X Racing

Saudi Arabia Motorsport Company CEO Martin Whitaker has confirmed the Kingdom’s World Rally Championship’s ambitions with a planned candidate rally next season.

There had been talk of a Jeddah-based event concluding the 2023 WRC schedule, but Whitaker pointed to the governing body’s process and the need to run the rule across inbound rounds of the series.

“There’s absolutely no doubting the desire to host a WRC round in Saudi Arabia,” Whitaker told DirtFish. “There’s a rich heritage of rallying in this part of the world as well an enormous contemporary relevance with Dakar, Extreme E and a round of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas.

“At the same time, we’re well aware of the procedure laid out by the FIA for the introduction of new rounds of the championship and we will, of course, follow that. Hopefully, with the right approvals, the conclusion of that process will be a round of the WRC in the Kingdom in 2024.”

The WRC hasn’t visited the Middle East since the Jordan Rally in 2011, but desire to see the sport’s highest level back in the region remains.

“Saudi Arabia is a country of 37 million,” said Whitaker, “and we know from the people we’re meeting all the time how much they want a WRC round. We’re really looking forward to showing the world around this incredible country. We were fortunate enough to host officials from both the FIA and WRC Promoter in recent months and I think it’s very fair to say they were delighted with what they saw here.

“In terms of the stages, we will have three distinct days, all of which will provide uniquely challenging competition. And in terms of the infrastructure, let’s just say we have some really exciting ideas up our sleeve.

“The WRC is global series and the opportunity to host the Middle East’s round is something Saudi Arabia would be extremely proud of.”

Words:David Evans