WRC: More at stake than Aus v NZ for 2018

Gordon Lomas

Saturday 17th December, 2016 - 6:00am

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Sébastien Ogier and co-driver Julien Ingrassia tackle the new-for-2016 Super Special stage at Coffs Harbour

Sébastien Ogier and co-driver Julien Ingrassia tackle the new-for-2016 Super Special stage at Coffs Harbour

World Rally Championship Promoter boss Oliver Ciesla says there are more forces at stake than a straight fight between Australia and New Zealand for a place on the 2018 calendar.

Rally Australia has gained significant traction on the Coffs Coast in recent seasons but will come to the end of its current WRC tenure following the November 17-19 event next year.

Corporate and public backing and support behind-the-scenes from Hyundai factory driver Hayden Paddon has seen New Zealand build a strong case to return to the WRC fold.

While it seems unlikely that both Australia and New Zealand would occupy space on the WRC calendar in the same year, there is also pressure from several other countries wanting a place on rallying’s biggest stage.

The WRC says that broadening the current 13-round schedule is on the table but not in the foreseeable future after teams made a considerable investment to move to the new technical regulations for 2017.

“For me it is not only a discussion between Australia and New Zealand which would both be very good hosts for a WRC event,” Ciesla told Speedcafe.com.

“The picture is much bigger as we are still in talks with China, Turkey and Japan.

“We have a strong bid from Chile and the Safari Rally in Kenya is becoming a solid project which everyone really would love to see back on the calendar.

“This is without mentioning the numerous options we could have in Europe if we wanted to.

“We have quite a long list but in the end as I mentioned before the limiting factor is the number of events we can have.

“If we could go to 16 events things would be much easier and that is the medium to long term objective.

“We do not need another tarmac rally in Europe but if we can have China we would accept tarmac because the country is such a big car market.”

CAMS chief executive Eugene Arocca has reinforced previously tabled thoughts that placing Australia and New Zealand on a year-to-year rotational policy would not work.

“If New Zealand wants a WRC round they can have it but not (at the expense of) ours,” Arocca told Speedcafe.com.

“We didn’t like the idea of alternating. I know some of the competitors have been talking about bringing back a rotational policy but it doesn’t work.

“We have done a pretty good job with our rally and there have been some challenges in rallies around the world and we feel we have ticked a lot of boxes.”

The WRC says in the long term there remains a need to reduce the gaps in between events which traditionally are no shorter than a month which would only happen if the calendar size grew.

The preliminary draft of the 2018 is likely to be put to the FIA by the middle of next year with a final proposal set to be looked at by the World Motor Sport Council in October.

Speedcafe.com has been established to provide a daily motorsport news service to the industry and fans in Australia and internationally.

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