Japan closes on WRC return

Japan’s return to the FIA World Rally Championship moved a step closer following the completion of a promotional agreement with WRC Promoter in Germany last weekend.

WRC Promoter managing director Oliver Ciesla finalised a contract with event organisers with a view to Rally Japan returning to the WRC in 2019, nine years after its last appearance on the calendar.

Unlike previous editions, which were held on the northern island of Hokkaido, the new event would be based on Japan’s main island of Honshu.

This would allow special stages in the mountain region encompassing the iconic Mount Fuji, between Tokyo, Yokohama and Nagoya.

In a video statement to media at a Rally Japan Bid Committee press conference today, Ciesla outlined the next steps.

“The process from now on will be that we will come to Japan and have a candidate rally in November.

“Then our proposal will go to the FIA World Motor Sport Council where we assume we will get a positive approval to bring the rally back to Japan. Then the event will take place from 2019, for probably four years,” he said.

The Rally Shinshiro candidate event will be held on 3 - 4 November, when it will be observed by the FIA and WRC Promoter to ensure it achieves high-level standards in key areas such as safety and organisation.

Rally Japan was part of the WRC six times between 2004 and 2010. The last edition was based in Sapporo and won by Sébastien Ogier and Julian Ingrassia in a Citroen C4.

Ciesla is pictured with Koji Takahashi, director of SAN’S Inc, a member of the organisers’ consortium, following completion of the promotional agreement.

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