Thirteen events from January to November in four continents
Rallies on asphalt, gravel and snow provide the challenge
New event in Latvia, Poland’s return and early Safari date among changes
An early-season date for Safari Rally Kenya, the debut of Rally Latvia in the FIA World Rally Championship and the comeback of Rally Poland are among the highlights of the 2024 WRC calendar.
Approved by the FIA World Motor Sport Council at its gathering in Geneva, Switzerland, earlier today, next season’s WRC schedule features 13 events in four continents between January and November.
Four events take place on Tarmac, one on snow and the remaining eight on gravel to ensure drivers and their teams are put to the test in a variety of conditions and on varying terrain.
The diverse range of rallies will also ensure the WRC’s spectacle and global appeal remain firmly intact.
Of the 13 rounds, three are outside Europe – in Chile, Japan and Kenya – and have been carefully scheduled to allow more cars and equipment to be transported by sea freight rather than by air freight as part of the championship’s commitment to sustainability.
As is tradition in the WRC, Rallye Monte-Carlo is up first on the schedule and will open the 52nd WRC season from January 25-28. Having been hosted by the principality of Monaco in recent seasons, the 92nd edition will run out of the French city of Gap, a move by the event organiser to utilise mountain roads in areas with a stronger likelihood of wintry weather.
Rally Sweden (February 15-18) provides a spectacular winter wonderland for the WRC heroes to showcase their skills on high-speed roads layered with snow and ice. The event is based in the university city of Umeå in the northeast of the country for a third year.
The iconic Safari Rally Kenya hosts the first gravel event of the season from March 27-31. Having run in June in 2023, the late March date coincides with the Easter weekend, once the traditional period for the demanding African contest.
It’s a return to Europe and Tarmac for the fourth, ever popular and ever demanding Croatia Rally (April 18-21) to count for the WRC ahead of back-to-back gravel events in Portugal (May 9-12) and Sardinia (May 30-June 2).
Rally de Portugal and Rally Italia were founding rounds of the WRC back in 1973 and while they have evolved over the years, they continue to provide a tough test for car and crew.
Like Rally de Portugal and Rally Italia Sardegna, Rally Poland formed part of the inaugural WRC schedule. Having hosted the FIA European Rally Championship since 2018, the second oldest rally in the world behind Rallye Monte-Carlo returns to the world championship from June 27-30 with gravel stages around the town of Mikołajki in the Masuria lake district.
There will be fast-paced gravel stages in abundance when Rally Latvia joins the WRC for the first time from July 18-21. Run as Rally Liepāja since 2013 as a round of the FIA ERC, the change of name reflects the event’s rise in status and the fact more areas of the Baltic country will host the action.
High-speed gravel roads will also challenge crews on the Jyväskylä-based Rally Finland (August 1-4), which is followed by another founding WRC round, Acropolis Rally Greece (September 5-8). Both events enjoy legendary status and carry significant kudos for the successful crews. This year’s Acropolis Rally began in the Greek capital Athens with residents treated to a spectacular superspecial stage in the harbour area.
Rally Chile Biobío will welcome the WRC for the third time from September 26-29 from its base in Concepción, a port city on the Pacific coast, where fast and technical South American gravel stages are in store.
The Central European Rally, an all-new event for 2023 which is gearing up to take place next week from October 26-29, is set to host the penultimate round of the 2024 season (October 31-November 3) when it will again feature asphalt stages in Austria, Czech Republic and Germany.
For the third year running, Rally Japan (November 21-24) forms the deciding round of the WRC season. Once a gravel event on Hokkaido island, it relocated to Honshu, Japan’s main island, when it returned to the WRC in 2022 for a Tarmac-only route based out of Toyota City.
As well as counting for the FIA World Rally Championship for Drivers, Co-Drivers and Manufacturers, all 13 events are eligible for the FIA WRC2, FIA WRC2 Challenger and FIA WRC3 championships and the FIA WRC Masters Cup. Competitors can once again build their schedule up to the permitted maximum for their category with the number of scoring rounds per category announced at a later date. The five rounds that will form the 2024 FIA Junior WRC Championship calendar will be revealed in due course.
FIA Road Sport Director Andrew Wheatley said: “With true classic events, including Monte-Carlo, Sweden, Safari, Portugal, Finland or the Acropolis, emerging rallies like Croatia, Chile and Japan and new innovative events such as Latvia and the Central European Rally, we can look forward to another successful FIA World Rally Championship season in 2024. We’re assured of a good variety of strong rallies over four continents and welcome a return of the sport to the enthusiastic fans in Central and Eastern Europe.” – www.fia.com