According to “sources”, World Rally Championship does not want another tarmac rally added to its calendar. At the same time, new events are being discussed, and not only that. According to an article on Autosport website, WRC wants a round in China. The want is so strong that China could be added as early as 2016. That is next year. There is also talk of Japan, but not before Toyota joins the series. Presumably that’s because Japanese fans have no interest in WRC unless there is a Japanese team or brand competing. /s
All that aside, and I have no issues with new territories being added if they are relevant to sport or its teams and can help WRC grow, but why no love for tarmac? I get the gravel effect, I too love those events more than sometimes sterile tarmac, but if championship is about diversity and challenge, then surely there is a place for one more event on sealed surface. Similar to how no two gravel events are quite the same, tarmac rallies can provide different challenges (presuming French round never again returns to Alsace, ever).
Tarmac is, in most countries anyway, very road relevant. It also provides a different challenge to drivers and some of them spend years mastering the black stuff. Tight and twisty tarmac stages can be extremely demanding – make them extra long and you have a real challenge on your hands. Tarmac is boring if events are held on smooth, wide, sweeping roads – there’s speed in those, but not much else, so several such stages in a year are more than enough. But if you set your tarmac rally on roads such as those on Corsica or Ireland, then it will take a lot more than just speed to make it through in one piece. These two examples, Corsica and Ireland, are just that, examples – there are many other variations and types of tarmac roads and stages around the world, different to those we already have in calendar (Monte Carlo, if the weather gods are in a good mood; France, Germany and Spain).
Maybe there is no room for another tarmac rally in current calendar, which brings us to another unknown regarding China and Japan. If two new events make it in, does that mean two current events will have to go? Can WRC survive such a thing as a calendar expansion? I honestly hope we are going to see expansion instead of events being thrown in and out of the pot. If WRC is seeking new grounds, does that mean we’re out of the woods and back to (former) power and glory?
Come to think of it, maybe I don’t crave that much for tarmac. Maybe I just want to see new territories and new fans introduced to our sport. And then have another tarmac event added. Yes.
Link to Autosport.com article.