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WRC lists China and USA as key expansion targets

The World Rally Championship has identified China and the USA as its two key expansion targets for the future, with the latter in the running to join the series in 2025.

Kalle Rovanperä, Jonne Halttunen, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Establishing a return to the USA for the first time since 1988 has been a long-term ambition for the WRC, which is looking likely to come to fruition in the future through the Rally USA project, based out of Chattanooga, Tennessee.

However, a move into China is also high on the WRC's wish list once it achieves its return to the USA.

China has previously hosted a WRC round in 1999, won by then Toyota driver Didier Auriol, and was set to host a round in 2016 before storms forced organisers to cancel the event.

WRC representatives are hoping to travel to China later this year to talk with several interested cities keen on hosting the championship in the future.

"There is a huge demand for new events to join or other events to rejoin the world championship," WRC event director Simon Larkin told select media including Autosport.

"I don't mind admitting that the US is a strategic target of ours. Peter [Thul, WRC senior sporting director] and I have clear direction from our board and shareholders about China.

"They remain our two strategic key targets. The US is the most likely to come in 2025 and then China as quickly as we can.

"We are trying to find time on our schedule to go to China to do a road trip this year of a number of interested cities that we are already in discussion with."

Work to bring the USA back to the WRC is continuing although the championship has previously stated it would only include the nation back on the calendar once it can be assured the event will be a success.

FIA World Rally Championship

FIA World Rally Championship

The FIA attended a demonstration event held by Rally USA organisers in April which received positive feedback. The next hurdles to overcome for the event surround an alignment between ASNs and securing the necessary insurance requirements.

"There is a process and an alignment with the ASN that has to be done and it takes some time, especially in the US, and this is something we have asked the FIA president to support us on this., said Thul. "He has promised us to do it properly."

Larkin added: "Any world championship it doesn't matter whether it is Formula 1 or us, an ASN is an essential part of that as it is an FIA world championship.

"The US, in terms of having rallying at a high level, it is a big step for example to where they are with the ARA (American Rallying Association]. It is a well-run championship but it is regional rallying at most.

"From that to a WRC event in complexity and insurance, the US is an incredibly complicated market for insurance. We all know that the inherent risk of rallying is high and we have to be conscious of that.

"There is no point in us having a contract with a city, the tourism body and the government and then finding it very difficult to reach the level of insurance required.

"It is a key step and if we find out it is going to cost X, it is a critical part of our business model before we go down and spend too much time and money without understanding what the cost of it is.

"For all events, motorsport insurance is becoming far more expensive and complex. There are a little number of brokers."

The WRC's eventual aim is to form a calendar that includes a round in the USA and at least one in South America, with Argentina expected to represent the former by 2025 at the latest.

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