Ott Tanak
Ott Tanak, the WRC world champion from Estonia, will have the opportunity to participate in front of his home crowd for the first time. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: Rallyists are all set to have at least eight rounds of competition around the globe as Estonia prepares to re-open the FIA World Rally Championship in the first week of September.

The Baltic nation of Estonia will become the 33rd destination since 1973 in the FIA World Rally Championship history to stage a round when the 2020 WRC season restarts from September 4-6.

The World Championship had come to a grinding half after just three rounds were held in Monte Carlo, Sweden and Mexico before the global pandemic lockdown. Going into the fourth round, six-time champion Sebastien Ogier is currently holding an eight-point advantage over his Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT teammate Elfyn Evans.

The reworked 2020 calendar was announced earlier this week with Rally Estonia making its debut after running as a WRC promotional event in 2019.

Much is expected from reigning world champion Ott Tänak, who will have the rare opportunity of competing in front of his home fans for the first time-ever.

Rally Estonia is expected to be a short format event with a shakedown and opening ceremony on Friday [September 4] followed by two legs on Saturday and Sunday. It will be based in Tartu in the east of the country with the service park at the Estonian National Museum.

Rally Italia Sardegna, based in Alghero, has been moved up from June to October 29-November 1 and this switch to autumn means crews will face cooler conditions on tough tracks in the north of the Mediterranean island.

Estonia’s gravel road encounter precedes scheduled events in Turkey (September 24-27), Germany (October 15-18) with Italy the penultimate round before the season-closing return of Japan (November 19-22).

Rally Argentina, which was postponed from April and traditionally attracts almost a million fans to Cordoba province, has now been cancelled. The championship will comprise at least eight events and WRC Promoter will continue its already advanced talks with Ypres Rally (October 2-4), with the aim of presenting Belgium as another available host country shortly. Talks with the Croatian Automobile and Karting Federation will also move forward.

The new calendar was announced at a press conference in Tallinn earlier this week, and was attended by Prime Minister Jüri Ratas and WRC promoter & managing director Oliver Ciesla.

Revised 2020 WRC calendar

Estonia: September 4-6, 2020

Turkey: September 24-27

Germany: October 15-18

Italy: October 29-November 1

Japan: November 19-22

Monte-Carlo: January 23-26, 2021

Sweden: February 13-16

Mexico: March 12-15

*Note: Belgium’s Ypres Rally (October 2-4) and Croatia (TBC) could also be added to the calendar.