Rally

Safari Rally could officially return in WRC calendar vote this week

An FIA World Motor Sport Council vote on the 2020 World Rally Championship calendar is expected later this week and could lead to the Safari Rally being officially added.

The result of the vote is likely to come on Friday but it could be pushed back until early next week.

Sources close to the governing body have outlined that the vote will include a proposal to add the expected Rally Japan and Safari Rally events.

The proposal does not include Corsica, but Germany is on the schedule as a reserve event.

The understanding is that there will be no need for the rotation of events in the manner discussed at last month’s WMSC meeting.

The potential for rotation was discussed in Paris as a way of including Corsica and Germany and potentially bringing more European countries to the calendar.

Autosport understands the plan was for events to rotate twice in 10 years.

The only events which voted against rotation were Australia, Kenya and Japan.

The source said: “It’s understandable that new events don’t vote for rotation – and Australia understands the very real potential for rotation with New Zealand.”

The immediate future of the antipodean round of the series remains unclear, with New Zealand understood to be ready to go with an Auckland-based event for one year only.

A new-for-2020 Rally Australia based out of Gold Coast is reportedly still to be finalised by the Australian governing body.

The future of the Safari Rally will take another step forward when Hyundai, M-Sport and Toyota all send representatives alongside the FIA and WRC Promoter to observe the candidate event in Kenya this weekend.

The event is crucial in its bid for a WRC inclusion for the first time since 2002 with this weekend’s audition event, which starts in Kasarani, Nairobi.

After an opening 1.2-mile superspecial in the nation’s capital, crews head 50 miles north for the service park alongside Lake Naivasha on Friday afternoon.

The event, which is also a round of the African Rally Championship, is centred on the shores of the lake in the Great Rift Valley.

The route for the candidate event includes 158 competitive miles over 14 stages, for a total route of 488 miles.

Colin McRae and Nicky Grist won the last WRC-qualifying Safari Rally 17 years ago, although the event was significantly different in nature.

That event encompassed 627 competitive miles and it took the Ford Focus RS WRC 02-driving McRae close to eight hours to complete.

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