The Ypres Rally in Belgium will replace Rally GB on the calendar for the 2021 FIA World Rally Championship after official conformation was revealed earlier this week.
Ypres, which had set to be a substitute round of the series last year following the COVID-19 pandemic before it was forced to be cancelled due to an increase in coronavirus cases in Belgium in the build up to the event, will finally get its chance to host a WRC round for the first time in 2021, but at the expense of the British round of the series.
The tarmac event is set to take place in August, meaning it will take place later than its traditional June date of recent seasons where its played host to a round of both the British and Belgian Rally Championships.
“Following the cancellation of the rally at the end of October, we remained in close contact with the FIA and WRC Promoter, emphasising that our event was ready to take its place on the WRC calendar,” commented Alain Penasse who is one of the organisers of the event.
“Our employees had proved that they could switch quickly and organise a WRC event at short notice. We will be able to welcome the FIA World Rally Championship in Ypres for the first time in mid-August! Broadly speaking, we will use last year’s format again. This was clearly appreciated by the participants, as the registration list for the 2020 edition looked impressive with 140 teams registered.
“Of course we had to take into account the other dates on the FIA WRC 2021 calendar,” he added.
“In August we will replace the UK round. We also had to take into account the availability of the market in Ypres and the possibilities at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit, where the GP Formula 1 will be held at the end of August. That’s why mid-August seems ideal.”
Rally GB meanwhile had been one of the longest standing events on the calendar having been part of the championship since 1973, but will now not be part of the series this season despite the best efforts of the event organisers.
The British event has traditionally been one of the toughest and most difficult events on the calendar having orignally taken in dozens of stages around the UK before more recently using Welsh forest stages as its location.
The 2021 FIA World Rally Championship is set to get underway in two week’s time on Rallye Monte Carlo, where Sebastien Ogier will begin his quest for a eighth title win.