WRC Promoter confirms 2016 championship dates
· Rally dates announced for 2016 FIA World Rally Championship
· China returns in September for first time since 1999
· Australia closes season in mid-November
· Britain remains final European round in October
The FIA World Rally Championship calendar for 2016 has been announced by WRC Promoter.
The 14-round championship will begin with the traditional season-opening Rallye Monte-Carlo in January and will feature a mix of gravel, asphalt, snow and ice action across five continents to find the world’s best all-round driver.
Exciting innovations for 2016 are:
· Asia becomes the fifth continent to join the WRC with Rally China returning for the first time since 1999. The all-asphalt event will run as the 10th round on 9 – 11 September, based in the Huairou district just 70km from central Beijing. Huairou, which hosted the 1999 rally, benefited from huge investment ahead of the 2014 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting.
· Rally Australia will move from its September date in 2014 to end the championship on 18 – 20 November next year. It will be followed by a glamorous and high-profile gala finale to the season in Sydney.
· Rally GB will remain the final European fixture as the championship’s penultimate round. It will be based in Wales on 28 – 30 October, following the completion of Britain’s national rally calendar, preserving the likelihood of tricky late-year conditions which make the event so challenging.
Following this year’s successful inaugural event, celebrities from the worlds of sport and entertainment will kick-start the 2016 championship at a spectacular opening in Monaco immediately ahead of the start of Rallye Monte-Carlo.
The famous Grand Prix circuit will echo to the sound of raucous World Rally Cars as guests enjoy high-speed rides alongside top WRC drivers from teams including Volkswagen Motorsport, Hyundai Motorsport, Citroën Racing and M-Sport.
WRC Promoter managing director Oliver Ciesla said the 2016 calendar offered a mix of tradition and innovation.
“It brings an enticing blend of the WRC’s heritage, in the form of classic and long-standing events such as Sweden, Argentina and Finland, with a new and exciting challenge on asphalt roads in China,” he said.
“WRC Promoter has signed a multi-year agreement with Letv Sports to promote the event alongside the Federation of Automobile Sports of China.
“Letv today is one of the world’s largest acquirers of sports rights and WRC joins a portfolio which also includes Formula 1 and the English Premier League. We welcome China back to the series and look forward to working with a successful and highly experienced organisation.
“China is the biggest car market globally and by taking the WRC there, we offer manufacturers the opportunity to showcase their products via a championship focused on production-based vehicles. Its return was unanimously supported by our participating manufacturers.
“Another major change sees Australia become the final round. The Coffs Harbour rally is driven by an enthusiastic organising team with a refreshing attitude to promotional opportunities, and fully deserves its place as the season’s final fixture,” added Ciesla.
The 2016 calendar is:
22 – 24 January
12 – 14 February
4 – 6 March
22 – 24 April
20 – 22 May
10 – 12 June
1 – 3 July
29 – 31 July
19 – 21 August
9 – 11 September
30 September – 2 October
14 – 16 October
28 – 30 October
18 – 20 November