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WRC 2018 championship calendar confirmed

By Peter McKay, 25 Sep 2017 Motorsport

WRC 2018 championship calendar confirmed

Australia remains part of next year’s championship, but is the cost of holding it becoming too high?

THE promoter of the World Rally Championship, has named a 13-round calendar for the 2018 FIA World Rally Championship.

Turkey returns for the first time since 2010, replacing Poland in the fixture list, while Spain will become the final European round after a date swap with Britain.

The calendar, which again includes Australia as the final round on November 15-18, has been approved by the FIA World Motor Sport Council in Paris. 

Nevertheless there are rumblings that the 2018 Rally Australia may not necessarily happen due to the pricy fee demanded by WRC Promoter GmbH.

The NSW Government and the Rally Australia organising group must soon determine if the tourism and economic benefits can justify a case to spend more money.

Focussing on the positives, the championship starts with the traditional season-opening Rallye Monte-Carlo in January and features a mix of gravel, asphalt, snow and ice action across four continents to find the world’s best all-round driver.

Round 10 in Turkey will be based in the popular international holiday resort of Marmaris, in the south-west of the country, on September 13-15.

The gravel event will feature fast to medium-speed special stages, including a mix of smooth open roads near Marmaris and more demanding rocky mountain passes in Mugla state.

Turkey is not particularly stable politically but importantly three WRC manufacturers – Toyota, Hyundai and Ford – build vehicles there. Enough said.

Great Britain switches from late October and will run three weeks earlier on October 4-7, allowing the event to also count for the British Rally Championship.

Spain swaps with Great Britain to become the final European round and the penultimate event of the season on October 25-28.

In other rally news, Finnish prodigy Kalle Rovanperä will be the youngest driver in the FIA World Rally Championship when he contests Kennards Hire Rally Australia at age 17 in November.

 Celebrating his birthday on October 1, Rovanperä will be aged 17 years and 46 days when he starts the closing round of the 2017 FIA WRC on the New South Wales Coffs Coast on November 16.

 He will be not only the youngest WRC driver, but also 119 days younger than Dutchman Max Verstappen when he made a controversial debut as Formula 1’s youngest starter at the 2015 Australian Grand Prix.

Front-running British team M-Sport has confirmed Rovanperä will drive a Ford Fiesta R5 in the WRC2 category at Rally Australia. His first event in the car will be three weeks earlier at Wales Rally GB.