A season opener with Safari Rally Kenya in the top three, the debut of Rally Latvia in the FIA World Rally Championship and the return of Rally Poland are among the highlights of the 2024 WRC calendar.
Approved by the FIA World Motor Sport Council at its meeting in Geneva, Switzerland this Thursday, next season's WRC calendar includes 13 events on four continents, contested between January and November.
Four events take place on tarmac, one on snow and the remaining eight on dirt, to ensure that drivers and their teams are put to the test in a variety of conditions and on varied terrain. The diversity of races will also ensure that the spectacle and global appeal of the WRC remain firmly intact.
Of the 13 rounds, three are outside Europe - Chile, Japan and Kenya - and have been carefully scheduled to allow more cars and equipment to be transported by sea rather than air, as part of the championship's commitment to environmental sustainability.
As is tradition in the WRC, the Monte-Carlo Rally is the first on the calendar and will open the 52nd WRC season from 25 to 28 January. After being organised in the principality of Monaco in recent seasons, the 92nd edition will have the French town of Gap as its starting point, an initiative by the event organiser to use mountain roads in areas with a higher probability of wintry weather.
The Rally of Sweden (15-18 February) provides a spectacular winter wonderland for WRC heroes to show off their skills on high-speed roads covered in snow and ice. The event takes place in the university town of Umeå in the north-east of the country for the third year.
Kenya's iconic Safari Rally hosts the first dirt event of the season from 27 to 31 March. After taking place in June in 2023, the date of the end of March coincides with Easter weekend, once the traditional time for the demanding African competition.
It's a return to Europe and asphalt for the fourth, ever-popular and ever-demanding WRC Rally Croatia (18-21 April), before consecutive dirt races in Portugal (9-12 May) and Sardinia (30 May-2 June).
The WRC Vodafone Rally de Portugal and the Rally of Italy were among the founding events of the WRC in 1973 and, although they have evolved over the years, they remain a tough test for cars and teams.
Like the WRC Vodafone Rally de Portugal and the Rally of Italy Sardegna, the Rally of Poland was part of the inaugural WRC calendar. Having hosted the FIA European Rally Championship since 2018, the world's second oldest rally behind Rally Monte-Carlo returns to the world championship from 27 to 30 June with dirt stages around the town of Mikolajki in the Masuria Lake District.
There will be fast-paced dirt stages galore when Rally Latvia joins the WRC for the first time from 18 to 21 July. Held as Rally Liepaja since 2013 as an FIA ERC round, the name change reflects the event's rise in status and the fact that more areas of the Baltic country will host the action.
High-speed dirt roads will also challenge the teams at the Rally of Finland in Jyväskylä (1-4 August), which is followed by another founding round of the WRC, Acropolis Rally Greece (5-8 September). Both events enjoy legendary status and carry significant weight for the winning teams. This year's Acropolis Rally began in the Greek capital, Athens, with residents witnessing a spectacular super-special stage in the harbour area.
Rally Chile Biobío will host the WRC for the third time, from 26 to 29 September, from its base in Concepción, a port city on the Pacific coast, where fast and technical gravel stages are expected in South America.
The Central European Rally, a completely new event for 2023, which is set to take place next week from 26 to 29 October, is ready to host the penultimate round of the 2024 season (31 October to 3 November), when it will once again feature asphalt stages in Austria, the Czech Republic and Germany.
For the third year running, the Rally of Japan (21-24 November) is the decisive round of the WRC season. Once a dirt event on the island of Hokkaido, it was moved to Honshu, Japan's main island, when it returned to the WRC in 2022 for an asphalt-only route based in Toyota City.
As well as counting towards the FIA World Rally Championship for Drivers, Co-Drivers and Constructors, all 13 events are eligible for the FIA WRC2, FIA WRC2 Challenger and FIA WRC3 championships and the FIA WRC Masters Cup. Competitors can once again build their calendar up to the maximum allowed for their category, with the number of scoring rounds per category announced at a later date. The five rounds that will make up the 2024 FIA WRC Junior Championship calendar will be revealed in due course.