Returning to the Middle East for the first time since Rally Jordan in 2011 has been a long-time goal for the championship, with Saudi Arabia understood to be the target to host a round in 2025.
The WRC has described a desert rally in this region as a “missing piece” of its current calendar.
Plans to add a Middle East round to the WRC schedule have come close to fruition in the last two years and it now appears as though 2025 is a likely eventuality, according to WRC event director Simon Larkin.
“We remain absolutely confident that in 2025 there will be a Middle East round of the WRC,” Larkin told media including Motorsport.com.
“We’re also very confident because we will be ambitious that when we have a WRC event in the region, we think it can also revitalise the Middle East Rally Championship, and we will work very tirelessly to make that happen.
“We think it’s a really critical market for competitors. We all remember quite a few years ago we had so many Middle Eastern competitors competing here at every level, and we want to bring that back and having a foundation event there we know is a critical thing there.”
The possible inclusion of a Middle East round to the championship next year arrives at a time when several countries are bidding to join the WRC in 2025.
Petter Solberg, Citroen WRC
Photo by: McKlein / Motorsport Images
Ireland is among those aiming to secure a three-year deal to join the WRC beginning from next year, after revealing its plans to media last month.
The WRC has also said that adding Ireland to its calendar is a “priority” and a “key event to cover the whole British Isles.”
Motorsport.com understands the WRC Promoter will participate in a meeting to discuss Ireland’s plans next week.
The championship that last visited the nation in 2009, the event won by Sebastien Loeb.
Motorsport Ireland wishes to rotate the rally across three venues, namely Limerick, Kerry and Waterford.
While venues have now been selected, the rally will still require funding for its bid to be successful. An application to the Irish government is underway to secure 15 million euro spread across three years, which Motorsport Ireland hopes will return 300 million euro to the economy.
In addition to Ireland, reports from South America last week have indicated that Paraguay is also planning a bid to join the WRC next year, although a deal is yet to be reached.