Where is the WRC going in 2025 and beyond?

Simon Larkin talks to DirtFish about the countries the WRC is aiming to visit in coming years


The world has been missing from the World Rally Championship for too long. Not anymore. Not according to Simon Larkin.

Larkin is WRC Promoter’s event director. He is, by his own admission, the man with the easiest job in rallying; demand for a WRC round has never been higher and it’s Larkin’s job to decide on the lucky 13 who make the final cut.

This week Larkin and WRC Promoter will present a 13-event schedule to the FIA for ratification and confirmation. The earliest this can happen is October 6, via an e-vote. Alternatively, we’ll have the calendar at the latest by October 19 when there is an online meeting of the FIA’s World Motor Sport Council.

The promoter is constantly striving to have its calendar out as early as possible, but it almost always lands in the year’s final quarter. As we discovered when we delved into the inner workings of the calendar process, it’s not the work of a moment.

The good news, Larkin’s already got 2025 dates pencilled in.

Even better news, the promoter and FIA look set the deliver on a 14-year promise from the governing body of world motosport. I remember my first discussion with Jean Todt when he became president in 2009.

He asked what had happened to rallying. When did it become a) a nine-to-five sport and b) a European championship.

“We need,” Todt said slowly, making a big circle with his finger, “to include the whole world in this championship again.”

Three terms of Todt and he still didn’t take us global. The combined force of his replacement Mohammed Ben Sulayem and Larkin look likely to have the job finished sooner rather than later.

As previously outlined on DirtFish, Monte Carlo, Sweden, Croatia, Portugal, Italy, Kenya, Finland, Greece, Chile, CER and Japan will be joined by Latvia and Poland to make up the 2024 roster.

But what about North America? What about Australasia? What about the Middle East?

Here’s what Larkin said: “Argentina will be back at the latest in 2025. The eventual aim is to have one event in South America and one in the United States. The US is one of two strategic targets for us and it’s the most likely for 2025.

“We’re similarly confident for the Middle East in 2025.”

Asked to comment on speculation of a Saudi Arabian event, Larkin added: “There are many countries in the Middle East.”

Moving east of the Middle East, what about Asia?

“China is the second of the two stragetic targets and we’re working hard on that.”


What about Australia or New Zealand? Last year the Kiwis hosted the WRC for the first time since 2012, and from 2016 to ’18 the season ended with the long journey to Australia.

“New Zealand is absolutely determined to come back in the future. Is this on a year-by-year basis? This is something we’re negotiating. We think 14 events is the maximum viable number in the medium-term and New Zealand may not be the best use of an annual slot, but the roads offer a unique sporting challenge and even though it’s a small market and long way away, it’s an event we should maintain in the championship.”

And, dare we ask, what about Britain?

Historically, this is the time all eyes have turned to Wales or to Kielder, to the challenge of the Scottish Borders and the English Lakes. Any chance of a Rally GB return?

“There is no credible option at the moment,” said Larkin.


That, as we know, hasn’t always been the case. Forget the woods, it was the Northern Irish Tarmac that gave UK fans their best option. Bobby Willis was a one-man driving force behind a Belfast-based WRC round.

It’s hard to imagine anybody around the world working harder to deliver an event. Single-handedly, the former co-driver garnered support from almost all the right places (in some places, you can lead the horse to water…) but ultimately came up just short of the line.

Larkin paid tributes to Willis’ work.

“Bobby Willis put a lot of his blood, sweat and soul into trying to make it happen,” he said. “I don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel. We worked as hard as possible with Bobby, but, unfortunately, it’s not happening. I have a huge amount of sympathy and respect for the amount of work Bobby put into it. It’s disappointing.”

Ireland looks ready to step in.

“You only have to look at WRC2 and Junior WRC to see the interest and investment Ireland is putting into rallying – we are in discussion with them about a future project and I’m very confident. We’re working as hard as we can to realize that.

“An event in Ireland would be amazing. we had great events there in 2007 and 2009 and it’s a market which can tick the box for that part of the world.

“If we can bring Ireland in, the UK’s not as strategic a target as it would be.”