Fresh challenges are the hallmark of every WRC campaign and 2019 will be no different, thanks to the inclusion of COPEC Rally Chile (9 - 12 May).
If the Chilean fans live up to their reputation of being at least as passionate and intense about motorsport as their Argentine neighbours, the championship’s newest event will be a stunner.
And the signs are good. An event organiser recently said: "Rallying is the second biggest sport in Chile behind football." Enough said.
Chile becomes the 32nd country to host the WRC since the championship was launched in 1973. The gravel rally's inclusion expands the calendar from 13 to 14 rounds – the largest since 2008 – and gives the 2019 season an increasingly global look with five events outside Europe.
The route, which is characterised by wide and fast gravel stages, will start from Concepción, southwest of Santiago. As the sixth round of the series, it forms the second part of a spectacular Latin America double-header with Argentina.
Chile boasts a proud motorsport history, and the country’s WRC introduction adds to south America’s burgeoning portfolio of world-class motorsport challenges.
After a successful trial in 2018 as a candidate event, the rally was given the nod in October.
WRC Promoter managing director Oliver Ciesla said: “We pursue a strategy to further globalise the championship by incorporating more events outside Europe. Turkey successfully brought a WRC footprint back to the Asian continent and Chile will prove an equally worthy addition to the 2019 calendar.
“The colour, passion and intensity of back-to-back rallies in Latin America, a region whose booming motorsport imprint provides great potential to further increase fan interest, will generate further impetus to the WRC.”