Ken Block is raising the profile of rallying in America
I was originally going to save writing this piece for Rally Mexico, when there will be a lot of hype surrounding a new driver to the series (and no, it's not Kimi Raikkonen). However, today the World Rally Championship's promoter, North One Sport, will be presenting a proposed schedule of events to the WRC Commission.

I feel that the WRC calendar should reach all corners of the globe, racing in many different environments. I'm sure that this is also the goal of the promoter, expanding into new markets.

However, the 2010 calendar is not one that fills me with anticipation of the season ahead. In addition to great rallies such as Sweden, Finland and GB are trips to countries such as Mexico, Jordan and Turkey. Rally Bulgaria is the new addition to the calendar for 2010, although I can't help but ask why?

The main catalyst for this piece, as I said earlier, was the anticipation, from media and fans alike, surrounding the arrival of the USA's Ken Block to the WRC. His arrival is not anticipated because he will be fast. To begin with, I expect him to struggle as he gets his first taste of WRC-spec machinery, driving an M-Sport-prepared Ford Focus for the Monster World Rally Team, named after the energy drink, his personal sponsor. Block is an internet star, known for his stunt driving, which saw him appear on BBC's Top Gear last year. He has been competing in the Rally America series, against ex-motocross champion Travis Pastrana. Block and Pastrana have been expanding rallying in the States, thanks to their unique style, something that has not been seen in the WRC before. Colin McRae's Dirt video-game series has also helped to increase the profile of rallying stateside, featuring Block and Pastrana. This rise in popularity, I believe, means the WRC should be visiting the USA, rather than its neighbour Mexico.

Abu Dhabi has been putting money into the sport without even having an event, thanks to its backing of the Ford team and its driver, Khalid Al Qassimi. It is running as a candidate event this year and is expected to join the calendar soon. The WRC recently expanded to Jordan, but a visit to Abu Dhabi would be a far more profitable venture for the series.

The main casualty from the WRC's failed event-rotation system is Monte-Carlo, which is now part of the rival Intercontinental Rally Challenge. Like Formula One starting in Melbourne, I've grown up with the WRC starting its year with the Monte, and Eurosport's live coverage in 2010 showed the enthusiasm for the event from the fans and the media. The Monte Carlo rally should be part of the WRC.

So here is my proposed calendar:
1. Monte Carlo (January)
2. Sweden/Norway (February)
4. Ireland (February/March)
5. Abu Dhabi (March)
6. Argentina (April)
7. Portugal/Italy (May)
8. Greece (June)
9. USA (June)
10. Finland (August)
11. New Zealand/Australia (September)
12. Japan (September)
13. France/Germany (October)
14. Spain (October)
15. Great Britain (November)

Tell me what you think by leaving a comment below. Do you agree? Am I wrong? Do you live in the USA? Do you want a rally?

Photo Credit: Dez & John

Green Canuck
18/02/2010 4:53am

If Block can make a decent showing this year and garner a lot of US support then I can see a WRC rally in the US in the future. Next year will be very telling as the new cars and new manufacturers come to WRC. All the changes are good in my opinion and a rally in the US would be a logical next step.


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