CHINA’S WRC ROUND IN DOUBT
China’s return to the World Rally Championship stands on the brink of collapse following a refusal to repair rain-damaged roads.
The route for next month’s Rally China was hit by flooding in July. The local council responsible for the roads has reportedly declined to fast-track work to fix them, citing budget constraints.
One source said: “This decision is in the hands of the organisers. Everybody has done what they can, but at some stage a decision needs to be taken on whether or not the roads will be fixed and the rally can run. And that decision needs to be taken sooner rather than later.”
WRC safety delegate Michele Mouton and a representative from the promoter flew to Beijing last week for two days of emergency meetings to try to find a way to keep the September 8-11 event on track.
The governing body and promoter issued a joint statement saying: “WRC Promoter and FIA are undertaking all necessary discussions and negotiations with the organiser to ensure the event continues. Both WRC Promoter and FIA were in China last week to make all necessary investigations and contingency planning for the event.”
M-sport’s Rich Millener told MN: “Most of the teams have chartered a plane to take the cars out to China. We have two and a half days to reprepare the cars next week and send them to the airport. Obviously every day that passes is costing the teams money, but that’s when we really need to know.
“We all want to go to this event. Everybody accepted China, understanding what an important market it is and we’ve all made a huge investment in this event already.”
There’s no firm timeline in place for any announcement, but news is expected during this week’s Rally Germany.
There’s a feeling between some in Beijing that Huairou wasn’t China’s strongest rally – the APRC round which ran earlier this month in Zhangye on the edge of the Gobi Desert was reckoned to be the preferred option.
Rally China is set to return to the WRC for the first time since 1999.
Rally China: last featured in 1999