Mixed results for Chinese WRC candidate event

A candidate event to determine China's suitability for a return to the World Rally Championship ran with mixed results

Mixed results for Chinese WRC candidate event

Rally Beijing Huairou - a round of the Chinese Rally Championship won by former WRC driver Chris Atkinson two weekends ago - was a two-day event, including a mixture of asphalt and concrete roads.

Currently based approximately 40 miles north of Beijing, the event is tipped for possible inclusion as a September or October rally on the draft 2016 calendar, which will be put to the WRC Commission at its meeting in Paris this week.

Triple British Rally Champion Mark Higgins finished second in his Subaru China Impreza and said the event had plenty of WRC potential.

Higgins and Atkinson both found motorbikes on the stages while they were at competitive speed.

"The stages are good and the organisation in China has really stepped up recently," Higgins told AUTOSPORT.

"There were some security issues, the stages would have to be closed off completely.

"We had an incident where we came upon a moped coming in the opposite direction on a stage. These things need to be addressed.

"The word is that this will be the rally for WRC.

"There's another event in a few weeks, a new gravel rally close to Beijing, but the understanding, I think, is that it will be Huairou."

FIA rally director Jarmo Mahonen was present at the event and will make his report to the Commission.

WRC Promoter's Oliver Ciesla said it remained too early to make a definitive call on whether China would be included next year.

"The quality [of the rally] and the quality of implementation can be the benchmark for us deciding if the country, the organisation has the capability to run an event at WRC level," said Ciesla.

"I had a short telephone call after the event, which was in principle good.

"But I do not have the official report, so it's a little too early to give you a solid answer."

Stuart Loudon, who co-drove Alister McRae to third place, said: "China has a lot to offer the World Rally Championship.

"I've only competed on two events out here, they have both been on incredible roads and provide a real challenge.

"There's a serious enthusiasm for bringing the WRC to China and I'm sure there's the means to do the job properly.

"The sport's growing in this part of the world and this is a fantastic opportunity for rallying to show itself off to 1.3 billion people of a single nationality."

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