The 2020 FIA World Rally Championship has seen a shakeup to its calendar, with three new events in Japan, Kenya and New Zealand added to the 14-round line-up.
For the first time in its history, six continents will be visited by the championship with the event in Kenya being the first time the series has visited Africa since 2002.
Japan also makes its return to the championship some 10 years since it last appeared on the calendar. The asphalt event is set to be the 2020 season finale in mid-November while New Zealand appears for the first time in seven years with Auckland set to host the WRC at the beginning of September.
With three new rounds joining the championship, this has meant the only mixed-surface event on Rally Spain, the asphalt event in Corsica and the current-season ending Rally Australia all miss out on the 2020 calendar.
The series also has seen several changes in terms of dates, none more so than Rally GB moving back to early November when it becomes the penultimate round of the championship.
Rallye Monte-Carlo is the traditional season opener between 23-26 January with the snow event on Rally Sweden following three weeks later in similar fashion to 2019.
A triple-header in the Americas is then planned between the end of March and the first weekend in May, with events in Mexico, Chile and Argentina; the latter two being reversed compared to 2019 while a pair of gravel events in Portugal and Italy conclude the first half of the year by the beginning of June.
The new event in Kenya takes place in mid-July with Rally Finland next up at the beginning of August. The second new round in New Zealand is scheduled for the opening weekend of September, with events in Turkey and the first tarmac event of the year in Germany coming before Rally GB and the season ending Rally Japan between November 19-22.
Managing Director of the WRC, Oliver Ciesla said on the much-changed 2020 calander: “It’s no secret we wanted to further globalise the series by incorporating more events outside Europe and we’ve achieved that next year with this exciting new-look calendar.”
“The return of Japan and Kenya provide a presence in the world’s largest two continents by size for the first time in more than two decades. The last time Asia and Africa appeared in the WRC together was 1999.The two continents are huge markets for the WRC and I thank everyone involved from both countries and the FIA who have been instrumental in returning the rallies to the calendar for 2020.”
He added: “New Zealand requires no introduction. It has a long and successful WRC history and the return of its curving billiard-table smooth special stages near Auckland will be one of the year’s highlights.”
“This is the most varied WRC calendar ever in terms of geographic locations, visiting six of the world’s seven continents. The additions provide a refreshing new feel to our fixture list and open an exciting new chapter to the championship, one that will appeal to both competitors and fans alike.”
The 2020 WRC Calendar:
|1||Monte-Carlo||23 – 26 January|
|2||Sweden||13 – 16 February|
|3||Mexico||12 – 15 March|
|4||Chile||16 – 19 April|
|5||Argentina||30 April – 3 May|
|6||Portugal||21 – 24 May|
|7||Italy||4 – 7 June|
|8||Kenya||16 – 19 July|
|9||Finland||6 – 9 August|
|10||New Zealand||3 – 6 September|
|11||Turkey||24 – 27 September|
|12||Germany||15 – 18 October|
|13||Great Britain||29 October – 1 November|
|14||Japan||19 – 22 November|