Calendar locked in for 2019 World Rally Championship season
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Rally Australia will once again be the final round of the FIA World Rally Championship in 2019.
The FIA World Rally Championship is expanding to 14 rounds next year with Chile hosting a round of the series for the first time.
The provisional 2019 calendar announced some weeks ago has now been confirmed — with no date changes — following the FIA World Motor Sport Council meeting in St Petersburg, Russia last week.
The new event in Chile follows a successful candidate rally being held earlier this year. It means the championship now has three events on the American continent with Chile joining Mexico and Argentina.
The Chilean event will be based at Concepcion — southwest of Santiago — with an all-gravel format. Chile will become the 32nd nation to have hosted a round of the WRC since the series was established in 1973.
The May 9-12 date for Rally Chile follows a fortnight after Rally Argentina to create a South American double-header and manufacturer teams must use the same cars and spares kits for both rallies.
The 2019 championship will start with Rallye Monte Carlo from January 24-27 and the early season follows a similar format to this year with Sweden, Mexico and Corsica next on the calendar.
To accommodate the new rally in Chile the dates for Rally Portugal and Rally Italy (in Sardinia) are shifted slightly later in the year.
The dates announced for four of the last five rounds had been listed as provisional but are now confirmed. Rally Australia is set to be the final round on November 14-17, the fourth consecutive year the Coffs Harbour based event as hosted the championship final.
A 14-round round series will be the largest championship since 2008 which included 15 rallies. The 2016 season was to have included 14 rallies but a new event in China was cancelled.
The biggest surprise with the 2019 WRC calendar has been the series not making its expected return to Japan. Plans to run an all-tarmac event on the island of Honshu – previous WRC Rally Japan events have been in Hokkaido on gravel roads – remain part of WRC expansion plans for 2020 and beyond along with planning for a modernised version of the Safari Rally in Kenya.
2019 FIA World Rally Championship
January 24-27 — Monte-Carlo
February 14-17 — Sweden
March 7-10 — Mexico
March 28-31 — France (Corsica)
April 25-28 — Argentina
May 9-12 — Chile
May 30-June 2 — Portugal
June 13-16 —Italy (Sardinia)
August 1-4 — Finland
August 22-25 — Germany
September 12-15 — Turkey
October 3-6 — Great Britain
October 24-27 — Spain
November 14-17 — Australia