What you need to know:
- Defending champion Sebastien Ogier (204 points) of France in a Toyota Yaris leads British team mate Elyfn Evans by 13 points with 26 on offer.
- Thierry Neuville, who won in Spain last Sunday, is third with 159. Meanwhile, Sami Pajari made history at Rally RACC - Rally de España by clinching the 2021 FIA Junior WRC title in his M-Sport Poland Ford Fiesta Rally4 with one round to go.
The FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) appears to have put the effects of Covid-19 — which disrupted the calendar for the last 18 months — behind it.
The disruption forced organisers in some countries, like Japan, to cancel their rounds, with the Rally of Japan initially scheduled to wrap up the championship next month.
The 2022 calendar will see the Safari Rally (June 23-26) inked as the sixth round. Already, route organisers Nazir Yakub and Anwar Sidi are on location in Naivasha to review possible changes, offer expert views and ensure the Safari can be held at any short notice.
Next year's calendar has added new exciting events and will introduce the energy sustainable age with the first WRC1 cars going hybrid, one of the biggest and most far-reaching changes in the sport since 1977.
The Rally 1 cars will blend 100kW electric motors and the existing combustion engines, while a hydrocarbon-based fossil-free fuel will be 100 percent sustainable.
All the three manufacturers — Ford, Toyota and Hyundai — have been testing these new machines which lead in the campaign to protect global warming campaign due to the high profile and visibility of the WRC as a global brand with millions of followers.
During the recent unveiling of the calendar by the FIA's World Motor Sport Council in Pari, WRC Promoter (the commercial rights holder of the championship) managing director Jona Siebel said the mix of classic fixtures and newer events would provide a mouth-watering schedule in a landmark season.
For the first time in decades, the championship will represent real geographical locales around the world.
The iconic Safari Rally, New Zealand, and Japan as listed, bring together four continents — Europe, Africa, Asia and Australasia — as the pandemic eases and WRC Promoter rebuilds towards its target of a 50-50 split between European and long-haul rounds.
The New Zealand Rally will be located near Auckland, and will feature for the first time since 2012 from September 20 to October 2 as the WRC celebrates its 50th season.
Croatia’s asphalt is retained in an expanded 13-round schedule after the central European country hosted a widely-praised debut in April.
The season kicks-off in January's Rallye Monte-Carlo in the French Alps, which is based solely in Monaco for the first time since 2006.
It is followed by the spectacular snow and ice of Rally Sweden, the series’ only pure winter fixture, which also has a new home as it relocates north to the east coast city of Umeå.
Croatia is the opening pure asphalt encounter in Zagreb in late April.
The gravel fixtures begin in Portugal in late May, the first of a string of grueling hot weather dirt road rounds.
It is followed in June by Italy and Kenya, one of global motorsport’s legendar. Estonia marks the midpoint of the championship, and Finland precedes round nine in mid-August at a venue to be confirmed.
Greece, another championship stalwart, returns in September after its successful WRC comeback last month, before the final gravel encounter in New Zealand.
The closing two rounds take place on asphalt. Spain’s late October fixture leads into the finale in Japan, mainstream Asia’s first appearance in the WRC since 2010.
The WRC 2021 season concludes in Monza, Italy, next month as the championship shapes up as a grand finale.
Defending champion Sebastien Ogier (204 points) of France in a Toyota Yaris leads British team mate Elyfn Evans by 13 points with 26 on offer.
Thierry Neuville, who won in Spain last Sunday, is third with 159. Meanwhile, Sami Pajari made history at Rally RACC - Rally de España by clinching the 2021 FIA Junior WRC title in his M-Sport Poland Ford Fiesta Rally4 with one round to go.
At 19 years and 325 days old, Pajari became the youngest and first Finnish driver to take the honours in the championship’s 20-year history.