Strong allegations against the World Rally Championship – direct response from WRC boss

New countries are continuously trying to join the World Rally Championship. But is a place only achievable with a large wad of cash?
Teemu Suninen
Teemu Suninen in action at the Rally Finland in the summer of 2023. Photo by: Jaanus Ree/Red Bull Content Pool.
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The WRC has featured 13 events annually in recent seasons. The WRC Promoter aims to have 14 rallies on the calendar next year.

Simon Larkin, the event director for the WRC Promoter, told selected media, including RallyJournal.com, during Croatia Rally that there’s no shortage of event organisers. In other words, Larkin can pick and choose the best as future calendars are planned.

Read more: WRC boss reveals plans for the future: “I have the easiest job in this company”

The WRC Promoter has faced tough criticism. Becoming a WRC event organiser requires payment, raising a pertinent question: is the WRC awarded only to countries willing to pay the most for their spot?

According to Larkin, this isn’t the case.

“Even when we go to a new country, it’s not necessarily about what the event fee is. We don’t treat things that way,” Larkin responded.

Larkin cited examples like Rally Monte Carlo and Rally Finland.

“Rally Monte Carlo is a very important brand event for us. However, it also comes with significant interest from Canal+.”

“With Rally Finland, we don’t necessarily just look at what Rally Finland pays. What does Finland bring to the World Championship? It brings a team (Toyota Gazoo Racing). It brings a number of drivers. And we have an amazing relationship with MTV3 (Finnish TV channel),” Larkin explained.

The WRC will likely have two or even three new events next season. Rally Islas Canarias will definitely be on the calendar, and Paraguay and Saudi Arabia are also being considered. There’s been speculation that the size of the cash offer might play a significant role, particularly for Saudi Arabia.

Larkin spoke generally, but according to him, the Promoter isn’t just seeking the largest cash pot when allocating places to event organisers. Larkin stated that they also consider the added value a country can bring to the WRC.

“It’s not necessarily who can pay the most. Otherwise we wouldn’t be going to some of these countries,” Larkin stated.

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