The World Rally Championship (WRC) is poised to expand to 14 events for its 2016 season through the return of a Chinese event to the motor racing series for the first time since 1999.
The International Automobile Federation’s (FIA) World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) has approved the Chinese rally subject to fulfilling FIA requirements following August’s candidate event. The WRC has not competed in the Far East since the last Rally Japan in 2010.
Rally China supplements the 2015 calendar’s existing 13 rounds. They are: Argentina, Australia, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Mexico, Monte-Carlo, Poland, Portugal, Spain and Sweden.
However, the rounds in France and Monte-Carlo are subject to finalising contract terms and conditions with WRC teams said to be reluctant to move beyond 13 rallies. The calendar was agreed without dates, which will be confirmed within the next few weeks.
In May, WRC organiser and commercial rights-holder WRC Promoter proposed an initial nine rallies for inclusion in the 2016 season, adding that it was targeting one or two new additions to fill the remaining calendar slots. Portugal, Germany, France and the UK’s events had originally been missing from the 2016 schedule.
Rally GB, which takes place in north Wales and currently serves as the season-ending event in the WRC, secured its long-term future in August. Organisers of the WRC confirmed the British round is set to remain on its calendar until at least 2018 after the event secured renewed financial backing from the Welsh government.