The FIA has confirmed a new-look World Rally Championship calendar for the 2021 season, with the addition of Croatia and the delayed return of the Safari Rally.
During a virtual World Motor Sport Council meeting on Friday, the governing body signed off on a 12-round schedule, which as is tradition, will begin with Rallye Monte Carlo in late-January.
Sweden will then host the second round before the WRC makes its very first visit to Croatia on April 25.
The Safari Rally in Kenya has also been included after it was dropped from the ’20 schedule due to the coronavirus pandemic. It will be the first time WRC has gone to Kenya for 19 years. Meanwhile Estonia will keep its position on the calendar.
“The inclusion of Croatia to the WRC for the first time is an exciting new challenge to our fixture list and brings huge anticipation,” commented WRC Promoter managing director Jona Siebel. “Estonia’s championship debut a few weeks ago proved a massive success – even more so given the short time available to the organisers to prepare the rally.”
This year’s calendar underwent a major re-working due to the coronavirus pandemic, with rounds cancelled or postponed, but it’s hoped a sense of normality will return to next year’s schedule.
However the FIA has lined up a number of “contingency events” should certain rounds need to be cancelled. Turkey, Latvia, Belgium, Argentina, the Acropolis in Greece and Monza in Italy will all be on standby should they be needed.
“Covid-19 has hit international sporting events extremely hard,” added Siebel. “WRC has not been spared, leading to the unfortunate cancellation of several events throughout 2020. So, in developing the 2021 FIA World Rally Championship calendar, we had to take pragmatic and strategic decisions on the continuing impact on global travel next year.
“We could not foresee any long-haul events being held in a safe manner for the public, or for our large group of travelling staff, suppliers, competitors and media, for the first five months of 2021. It’s essential our event organisers are fully committed to managing the difficult Covid-19 controls we can expect to be in place next year while delivering high-quality championship rounds. I’m confident the 12 rallies chosen for next year will not let us down.”
2021 World Rally Championship Calendar
|24 January 2021||Monte Carlo|
|14 February 2021||Sweden|
|25 April 2021||Croatia|
|23 May 2021||Portugal|
|6 June 2021||Italy|
|27 June 2021||Kenya|
|18 July 2021||Estonia|
|1 August 2021||Finland|
|22 August 2021||United Kingdom|
|12 September 2021||Chile|
|17 October 2021||Spain|
|14 November 2021||Japan|