Next week’s World Motor Sport Council meeting will deliver news on a revised World Rally Championship calendar, thought likely to include events from outside the WRC itself.
Wales Rally GB’s Tuesday announcement of its cancellation has piled the pressure on the WRC following the loss of Finland and New Zealand last week.
Both the FIA and WRC Promoter have stated they want at least seven rounds to make a championship this season and, currently, that’s possible with Turkey, Germany and Japan still moving through the gears in running their events.
The crucial seventh event could be Rally Italy – most likely running in Wales Rally GB’s vacant October date – pending agreement with WRC Promoter.
Word from recent meetings between the FIA and WRC Promoter is that nothing is off the table and everything is under consideration.
Sources within the governing body have admitted the plan is under discussion with news expected from next Friday’s meeting of the World Motor Sport Council.
In an interview with Swedish broadcaster SVT, Oliver Ciesla said: “We are looking in all possible options. We see which are the available weekends and how much time do we need to move from one location to another. The logistics is quite a limiting factor in our championship and the consequence of that is that particularly we are looking for alternatives in Europe.
“And another aspect that we – but particularly the FIA, which kindly shows flexibility with the format at this time – need to make sure of is the safety standards are at the world championship levels.
“Safety is remaining a high target and this limits the options quite a bit. If you take away the logistics aspect to get to a point where it’s maybe better in Europe to be on the mainland than an island, this narrows the opportunity down to four or five events.
“These can be events [which have] gathered experience from being part of the European championship now and in the past or events that have already been in contact with us and we were looking to observe them as candidate rallies.
“There are already quite a number of events that we already identified and we are already in talks with all of them to see as quickly as possible what is possible.”
Among the more obvious routes could be to include planned European Rally Championship encounter in Cyprus, a rally known to the WRC having run previously at the sport’s highest level.
Former ERC round Ypres Rally, which was recently rescheduled to October 1-3 and has recently had entry capacity freed up by the cancellation of this year’s British Rally Championship, is also thought to be on the list for consideration.
One source said: “There are plenty of other rallies around the world – even some running within the FIA’s established set-up. The key thing here is that we have to push everything and look everywhere. It’s good news that people are working on this and not sitting back and watching the WRC rounds fall.”
Those events on the original WRC calendar which remain on the schedule for now face differing sets of circumstances.
Turkey has closed borders at the moment, but they are expecting the restart international flights next week. Most public spaces, including restaurants are open and major sport restarts at the end of the month. Rally Turkey is currently set to take place on September 24-27.
Germany’s borders with Austria and France have been open since mid-May and the Swiss border will open on June 15. Major sporting events are banned until the end of August, while Rally Germany is set to take place on October 15-18.
The WRC’s November finale in Japan is coming close to revealing its itinerary and professional sport is expected to return to the country next week. Travel restrictions remain for regions badly affected by COVID-19 will remain until at least the end of the month.
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