As previously reported, the WRC has been keen to revert to a more global calendar similar to the schedule before the COVID-19 pandemic.
After a long delay, the FIA has now ratified a reshuffled 2023 schedule with an expected Middle East race believed to be Saudi Arabia not on the calendar.
In addition to the traditional snow event in Sweden, the season will include four asphalt and eight gravel rallies. Events are spread much more evenly than this year, when there was a seven-week gap between the rallies in Sweden and Croatia.
The revamped calendar sees WRC returning to Central and South America, with the gravel of Mexico being reinstalled after the calendar was shelved following the abridged 2020 edition due to the coronavirus pandemic. Mexico will host the third round of the championship in March after the curtain went up in Monte Carlo and Sweden in the winter.
The tarmac round in Croatia is followed by gravel rallies in Portugal, Sardinia, Kenya, Estonia, Finland and Greece, all of which have retained their places on the calendar.
Chile also returns to the calendar for only its second WRC event after making its debut in 2019. The gravel rally was scheduled to take place in 2020 but was canceled due to political and social unrest in the country. The South American round of the championship will be added to the schedule in September/October following the Acropolis Rally Greece.
The new central European tarmac event of the WRC will be based in southeast Germany and venture into Austria and the Czech Republic. It will effectively replace the popular Rally Spain which has been a mainstay since 1991.
Sebastien Loeb, Daniel Elena, Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC
Photo by: Fabien Dufour / Hyundai Motorsport
The addition also means that the Ypres Rally Belgium, which has taken a place on tarmac for the past two seasons, has been dropped from the calendar.
Belgium was drafted in to take up an August slot that had been held for Rally Northern Ireland which failed to secure the funding needed to bring WRC 2023 back to the UK as it had been absent since 2019.
Rally New Zealand will also not return next year after making a long-awaited comeback this season after 10 years.
Although the event has proved a hit with drivers and fans alike, it is clear that the rally will require a significant increase in government funding to ensure it can run on an annual basis. It is hoped that the rally could return in 2024.
The championship concludes again on tarmac in Japan in November after the country returned to the schedule for the first time in 12 years this season. Although the event came under scrutiny following a serious security breach, it proved popular with teams and local audiences.
It was hoped the championship would return to the Middle East with a round in Saudi Arabia, but plans to host an event in the region are understood to have been pushed back to 2024. The WRC last held a desert rally in 2011. Courtesy of Rally Jordan.
World Rally Championship 2023 calendar
Monte Carlo – January 19-22
Sweden – February 9th to 12th
Mexico – March 16-19
Croatia – 20.-23. April
Portugal – 11.-14. May
Italy – 1st-4th June
Kenya – 22.-25. June
Estonia – July 20th to 23rd
Finland – 3rd-6th August
Greece – September 7th to 10th
Chile – September 28th – October 1st
Rally Central Europe – October 26th to 29th
Japan – November 16th to 19th