Why was this year’s WRC calendar so late?

The 2023 calendar was only published eight weeks before the start of the first round


FIA rally director Andrew Wheatley has explained the reasons for the delay in the delivery of the 2023 World Rally Championship calendar.

The schedule of events for next season was revealed on Friday, less than eight weeks before the start of January’s Monte Carlo opener.

It was expected to be signed off on numerous occasions before this week, only for the final decision to be deferred.

Wheatley told DirtFish: “A rally is a partnership between a number of factors and all of those factors have to be in agreement before they can make that confirmed calendar.

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“It’s like starting a stage before everything is ready. We weren’t going to press the button until everything was defined.”

FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem and his deputy Robert Reid have implemented more rigor into the calendar process for next year.

Reid explained that thinking at the penultimate WRC round of the 2022 season in Spain, saying: “It’s up to the promoter to decide when they submit a calendar.

“There’s a process, it’s a very well-defined process, so they need to submit a calendar that meets that process and when it meets that process well then discuss and approve the calendar.”

Wheatley added that lessons regarding the delivery of the calendar had been learned across the board.

“It’s about learning, it’s about understanding how we go forward,” he said.

“We are working with all of the partners to understand how we can improve the processes, how can we make this simpler – how can we get to the point where we’re much earlier [with the calendar].”

One issue this year appears to sit with some ASNs – national sporting governing bodies – not having placed requisite paperwork with the FIA for inclusion in the 2023 WRC.

“There’s no question these boxes have always been part of the process,” said Wheatley, “but in the past they’ve been done as a totally separate activity.

“The calendar proposal comes this way, the ASN approval’s come this way, the World Motor Sport Council’s coming this way, then you’ve got a calendar.

“And what we want to do is change the process so it is more streamlined.”

The headline changes to next year’s calendar are the return of both Rally México and Rally Chile, and the brand-new Central European Rally.

They replace Ypres Rally Belgium, Rally New Zealand and Rally Spain.

Saudi Arabia had been mooted as a potential 14th round, but instead it has set its sights on a 2024 calendar slot with a candidate event running next year.

Words:David Evans