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WRC set for 13-round 2024 calendar, Saudi Arabia to miss out

The World Rally Championship is set for a 13-round calendar in 2024 while plans to expand into Saudi Arabia are expected to be shelved until 2025, Autosport understands.

Takamoto Katsuta, Aaron Johnston, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT NG Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Championship promoters had been working on an expanded 14-round schedule for next year which would have included a new desert-based round in Saudi Arabia.

The event had been touted as a possible addition to this year’s calendar but a deal was unable to be reached in time and has been pushed back a year. The WRC and organisers in Saudi Arabia still harbour hopes of securing an agreement but it appears 2025 is now the most likely target.

It is understood that a candidate event will be run close to Jeddah next year that will feature as part of the FIA Middle East Rally Championship.

Saudi Arabia's likely omission from the 2024 schedule will pave the way for a 13-round schedule which could help the WRC’s wish to grow the Rally1 field next year from a financial aspect.

Hyundai is currently investigating the prospect of running a fourth i20 N Rally1 in 2024. Team principal Cyril Abiteboul has previously told Autosport that budget is among the factors under consideration before this project is given the green light.

The former Renault Formula 1 boss spoke positively about the concept in Finland last week, confirming that a decision is expected to be made before the end of September.

The 2024 calendar is already starting to take shape with Monte Carlo, Sweden, Portugal, Greece, Kenya, Sardinia, Latvia (which will replace Estonia) and Chile all contracted for next year.

Last weekend Finland joined that group after inking a new three-year extension until the end of 2026.

PLUS: How the WRC title race was ignited by Evans in Finland

Adrien Fourmaux, Alexandre Coria, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Ford Fiesta Rally2

Adrien Fourmaux, Alexandre Coria, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Ford Fiesta Rally2

Photo by: M-Sport

That leaves four spots remaining on the 2024 calendar, one of which is expected to be secured by Japan, which rejoined the WRC last year, and will once again host the season finale this year.

Croatia is also in the running with the WRC Promoter revealing it would be on the 2024 schedule and was in talks to secure new multi-year deal following this year’s event.

The all-new asphalt Central European Rally, that includes stages in Germany, Austria and Czech Republic, set to make its WRC debut in October is understood to have a three-year commitment between organisers and the promoter.

However, Autosport sources have indicated that Poland could also be in line to return for the first time since 2017. It could replace Mexico which is currently out of contract. The gravel rally, which hosted the third round this year, is unlikely to be included in the 2024 calendar proposal that will be voted on at the World Motor Sport Council at the end of the month.

The WRC is still however keen to host two events in the Americas, with the USA its ultimate long-term goal via a rally held in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Keen for this project to be a success in cracking the US market, the focus has switched for this to join the calendar in 2025, although a proposed evaluation event will still take place next month.

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With the USA joining Saudi Arabia as a likely target for 2025, discussions are continuing with two regions in Argentina to bring the country back to rallying’s top flight, having last hosted a round in 2019 after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the 2020 edition.

As previously reported, hopes for a UK round held on asphalt roads in Northern Ireland have been hit by lack of government funding.

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