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Rally Bulgaria faces crucial meeting

The final part of the 2010 World Rally Championship calendar will be agreed at next week's WRC commission meeting in Paris, when the fate of Rally Bulgaria will be decided.

The Borovets-based event ran in July, but was marred by an accident which killed co-driver Flavio Guglielmini. Despite the event ending prematurely following that crash, WRC commission president Morrie Chandler said the rally made a strong case for inclusion next season, and that a decision would be made at next Monday's meeting.

"We'll know immediately after that September 16 meeting," said Chandler. "There has been a lot of to-ing and fro-ing between us and the organisers of Rally Bulgaria.

"We have been back to them with questions based on the observers' reports. Based on the answers to those questions, we've gone back with more questions and they have then answered those. We met with the World Rally Championship promoter and obtained their point of view.

"At the end of the day, we have got to recognise they [Rally Bulgaria organisers] have gone down the path set by the FIA four years ago. They followed the rules, the application, the candidacy event, they've paid all of the appropriate fees and been through all of the processes. They have followed the FIA requirement, so that puts them in a strong position."

Bulgaria's inclusion would effectively spell the end of the Rally Argentina, Acropolis Rally of Greece and Rally d'Italia's hopes of being included in next year's calendar. Despite the vast history Argentina, Greece and Italy all have in the WRC, Chandler was at pains to point out that the current situation was never a choice between Bulgaria, Argentina, Greece or Italy for one calendar slot.

"Argentina was only ever included if Bulgaria failed to measure up," he said. "Greece and Italy also put their hands up to be reserve events. If Bulgaria's not in, then Argentina isn't an immediate replacement - this was never about Argentina or Bulgaria.

"We would have to look at the cost and the shipping arrangements; Argentina may not fit in the calendar. We will see what happens after next week's meeting."

WRC promoter Simon Long said that he was keen for Argentina to get back on the calendar at the earliest opportunity.

"Argentina remains the reserve event for WRC next season and we certainly haven't given up on it forming part of the 2010 calendar," Long said.

"Argentina is one of this championship's most iconic rallies with an extraordinary history, popularity and tradition in WRC. If Argentina is not included next season, we are already looking to conclude a multi-year agreement with the organisers to ensure it remains a firm fixture on the WRC calendar for seasons to come."

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