WRC targets Middle East round for 2023, report says
Saudi Arabia’s potential option for the championship next year.
- The Middle East has not been on the WRC calendar since 2011
- The championship is also looking to host the first American race since 1988.
The World Rally Championship (WRC) is in talks with several parties in the Middle East to host a race next season, according to Autosport.
The premier rally competition has been absent from the Middle East since 2011, but it is unclear whether Jordan is in contention again after being the last country to host a round in the region.
Saudi Arabia would be a logical option, having hosted the Dakar Rally since 2020 and staged the first rounds of the all-electric Extreme E championship in 2021 and 2022.
“If we look at the calendar right now, we have a good snow event, we have Africa, we have the Acropolis rally in Greece, and those are the events we wanted to bring back,” Simon Larkin, director WRC events, says Autosport.
“I think having an event in the Middle East and in particular an event in the desert is the one that’s missing from this puzzle.
“Our ambition is to bring one into the World Rally Championship and even next year, and we are working in this direction.
“We would like to make a schedule where we compete on every continent except Antarctica.
“That’s what the World Championship needs and that’s what we had planned for 2020, and we want a return to absolute normality next year.”
While talks continue, there are plans for the WRC to return to Mexico next year, although no official announcement has been made by the championship. The WRC is also planning to hold its first race in the United States since 1988.
“The United States remains our number one target for an event in the future, without a doubt,” Larkin said.
“We are still working in this direction for this year. In the fourth quarter of this year, we expect to have something, whether it’s a demonstration, a roadshow or a test event.
“The United States is attractive to every stakeholder in the championship. We know there is a large fanbase because we see fan engagement numbers across all of our platforms.
“There aren’t many other countries we go to where we have existing ambassadors such as Travis Pastrana and Ken Block who are already involved in the sport.
“We see it’s a great launch pad for the WRC to have an event there. We just have to find the right fit for a city.