Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile and Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme, the world governing bodies for automobile and motorcycle racing respectively, jointly launched a world championship for cross-country rallying last weekend. The World Rally-Raid Championship will be co-sanctioned by both organizations. After 117 years, this is the first time that both organizations cooperated to create a single world championship.
The marquee event and the opening round of the championship will be the iconic Dakar Rally. The Amaury Sport Organisation, organizer of the Dakar, will serve as the championship’s promoter. The announcement took place on the same day that the ASO unveiled the full route of the 2022 Dakar Rally. The inaugural World Rally-Raid Championship season in 2022 will feature five rounds in Africa, Asia and Europe.
January 1-14: Dakar Rally
March 5-10: Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge
April 26-30: Kazakhstan Rally
June 8-12: Andalucía Rally
October 6-12: Rallye du Maroc
World Championship status and the inclusion of the Dakar Rally in the competition will raise the profiles of all the other events in the series. The goal is to provide a global year-round platform for cross-country rallying as the category undergoes a significant transformation. The sanctioning bodies hope that the championship will be a laboratory for manufacturers to stress test alternative powertrains in the harshest environments in international motorsport.
In a statement released by the FIA, its president Jean Todt said, “We can even talk about a revolution, as new energies are being introduced. Motor sport competition is a laboratory as we constantly strive to develop “clean cars”. From a sporting perspective, this leaves room for creativity and imagination.”
Hopefully, the World Rally-Raid Championship will allow motorsport fans more opportunities to follow cross-country rallying outside of Dakar. I personally love seeing extreme vehicles traverse even more extreme landscapes, and I won’t argue against any competition actively trying to make me watch more.