I cannot call any calendar of events “confirmed” as long as there are still stars or asterisks or whatever you call those little bugs that are always getting in a way of a good announcement. Yesterday, the FIA released a list of events and dates for next year’s World Rally Championship season, and as expected, it consists of fourteen events. As you probably very well know by now, the fourteenth country to host a WRC event next year is China, but they still have some “requirements” to “fulfill” in order to satisfy FIA’s expectations and standards. I’ve, of course, no idea what are those requirements, because candidate event ran in August and, reportedly, failed on so many levels, so can’t say what else can organizers do and say other than “our bad, we’ll make it better next year”. Or that asterisk is there just to keep it a bit more official, because word about how poorly the candidate event was organized got out, and now FIA is showing its authority by putting that little star next to China’s date in calendar. I am probably being silly here, but you have to admit it’s kind of funny – on one hand you have FIA acting like they’re not convinced yet and on the other China is all they talk about in their press release. Promoters are happy too, because WRC manufacturers will finally get a chance to promote their products to the biggest and most important car market in the world. Or something like that. Which is, of course, perfectly fine. But, that asterisk, just lol.
There are few more asterisks around, one for Monte Carlo and one for France. It is understood (whatever that silly phrase means) that both events are confirmed, just the French will not accept any kind of FIA authority and will sign their contracts when they feel like it. So they also get little stars for misbehaving. Other than that, it’s all confirmed and solid as a rock; the 2016 WRC season will start off in Monte Carlo in January, but will not end in Wales, oh no. Next year, WRC will try to wrap the season up in Australia! Hell yes, fourth long-haul event will be the final one of the year, so teams will drag all their shit across the globe for a single event (which WRC likes to do anyway), then drag it all back, because in few weeks time the 2017 season begins.
Maybe they want to send current cars and regulations away with a bang. Could be, because they’ve also announced this little thing: “Rally Australia will move from its September date in 2014 to end the championship on 18 – 20 November next year. It will be followed by a glamorous and high-profile gala finale to the season in Sydney.” Hohoo, a high-profile gala finale, no more, no less. Again, no idea what that means, no idea if European audience will have to stay up all night to watch this, if we’re even talking about something that will be televised, or is it just Jean Todt with his usual entourage, giving out trophies under the fireworks sky. Furthermore, there was no mention of this season finale becoming a new thing, because if Australia does cement its place in calendar, I somehow doubt we will see Rally New Zealand’s return to the series. To add to this, I always preferred gala starts to gala finales, but let’s see what they mean by this high-profile thing. It is obviously something Wales was incapable of.
Events, dates and stars
1. Monte-Carlo* 22 – 24 January
2. Sweden 12 – 14 February
3. Mexico 4 – 6 March
4. Argentina 22 – 24 April
5. Portugal 20 – 22 May
6. Italy 10 – 12 June
7. Poland 1 – 3 July
8. Finland 29 – 31 July
9. Germany 19 – 21 August
10. China** 9 – 11 September
11. France* 30 September – 2 October
12. Spain 14 – 16 October
13. Great Britain 28 – 30 October
14. Australia 18 – 20 November