WRC unlikely to introduce rotational calendar

It's a format that's been used before, but it's not on the agenda for now despite increased interest in calendar slots


Despite increased interest from events looking to secure a place in the World Rally Championship, the WRC is unlikely to adopt a rotational calendar in the near future like it has done in the past.

Rally Latvia will join the WRC for the first time in 2024, while the USA is among other additional countries tipped for inclusion on next year’s calendar. More recent WRC fixtures such as Argentina, New Zealand and the UK also continue to work on returns to the world stage.

With Latvia’s inclusion likely to be at the expense of its neighbor Estonia, event rotation within the WRC looked set for a possible return as a way of meeting the demand for calendar slots.

Rotation previously ran when the WRC adopted a shorter schedule of only eight to 10 events per year over 1994-1996. The championship was, at that time, moving away from the previous approach of entrants picking and choosing events towards full-season campaigns.

Rally Ireland, Sligo 29/1-1/2 2009

It effectively returned on a partial basis over 2007-2010 as a way of allowing new events like Bulgaria, Ireland, Jordan, Norway and Poland to be included alongside the WRC’s traditional mainstays. It allowed the calendar to be reduced to a more sustainable 12-14 events rather than the 15 or 16 rallies to which it had expanded to in 2004-2008.

Speaking in México, which could lose its place on the calendar to the neighboring USA, WRC Promoter event director Simon Larkin suggested that widescale event rotation may not be viable. The exception is likely to be with existing European Rally Championship events stepping in and out of the WRC schedule.

“At the moment our only strategy is to definitely have an incentive for probably one slot in the WRC for ERC [events],” Larkin told DirtFish.

“We’re showing that with Latvia next year. We’re in discussions with Poland and a couple of other events that are genuinely attractive markets in the ERC and events that are running at a very high level.

“To swing in and out of the championship on a broader level, probably not. Because like I said about here [México], about Argentina, these gaps in running are very difficult for events to maintain even their organizations without that consistency from year to year.

“All events in WRC now are professionally managed with a lot of full-time staff. If you don’t have that year in-year out, how do you keep that IP and expertise within your company?

“So I don’t see it being a regular part, but we’ll start to settle more longer-term strategic goals and even perhaps that multi-year deals further in advance to be able to just plan better.”

WRC Promoter is aiming to produce a 14-round calendar in 2024.

Words:Mark Paulson