Unlike IndyCar, the WRC can at least get a schedule released prior to the end of their existing season. Okay, jabs aside there are some interesting bits to this new schedule below. It’s business as usual up until round 10 in September when the much anticipated China round is supposed to appear. The big manufacturers like Citroen want it, but at the same time don’t want to pay for a 14th round in the championship. If it happens as scheduled, teams will have 2 weeks to pack up and leave Germany for the far east. After that they’ll have just 2 more weeks to hightail it back to Europe for WRC France. In comparison, the teams are given a month between Sweden and the trip to Mexico, even longer to prepare for Argentina, and still 3 weeks for Australia’s previous place on the calendar.
In addition to the short time frame to get back to Europe, WRC France is still searching for a home. Alsace doesn’t have their hometown hero Sebastien Loeb in the WRC, so the city isn’t willing to pony up the money required for an event there anymore. Then there is Corsica where the teams were rather frustrated with the caravan style constant movement from the classic Tour de Corse. Apparently hub and spoke rallies now rule the roost, and island tours are out. If there is ever an event that is likely to be cut, it’s WRC France whether we like it or not. To be fair, Monte-Carlo stages are all in France anyway.
And then there is the final round down under in Australia. Wales Rally GB has been the final round of the WRC for a very long time, but are now being replaced by a likely sunny Australian retreat as summer starts to take hold south of the equator. At first that may not seem like a bad idea, just watch out for those dusty night stages. One thing that concerns me is that we won’t see the big push of entries in the final round as we have seen in previously in Wales. Many privateers, especially in the WRC2 and other support classes, come up with funds after successful seasons in other championships to show their stuff against bigger names in Wales. It makes for a spectacular large final entry list before the off-season. With Australia being the final round, only the top teams that have to be there will pay the money to make the trek. If you are a privateer and the points no longer matter, why go at all? Might as well save your pennies for next season. I have nothing against Australia and would love to have both Australia and New Zealand in back-to-back rounds of the WRC (which makes more economic sense from a travel perspective), but I think Wales Rally GB is the rightful place for the season ender.
What are your thoughts on the new schedule? Do you think France should remain or go away? What about the season finale being in Australia? Let us know what you think in the comments below.