WRC adds Arctic Rally to the 2021 calendar
INTERNATIONAL - The World Rally Championship continued to revamp its 2021 calendar on Thursday when it added a race in northern Finland between February 26 and 28, the 'Arctic Rally'.
The rally will be raced on snow and ice, replacing the Rally of Sweden, cancelled because of Covid-19 restrictions, which last year had eight stages cut at the last moment because of a lack of snow.
The rally will be based in Rovaniemi, six kilometres south of the Arctic Circle where the highest temperature on the same dates last year was -5 degrees centigrade and the low was -18, though the WRC pointed out in its announcement that lows of -30 are not unknown in February.
The WRC said that they had not yet decided whether fans would be allowed by the roadside, but would follow local protocols.
The rally will be the second of 12 planned races this season, which begins with the traditional curtain raiser, the Monte-Carlo Rally, between January 21-24.
It will be one of two rallies in the country. The Rally of Finland, to be raced on gravel further south in Jyvaskyla, is scheduled for July 29-August 1.
The WRC said they were confident that local organisers could put together the event at short notice.
"It's been a tough race against time," said WRC Promoter managing director Jona Siebel.
"Winter rallies provide some of the sport's most spectacular action. A winter wonderland of full snow and big snow banks lining the roads are a driver's dream," Siebel added.
The weekend of racing will offer 10 special stages totalling 260 km.
Defending champion Sebastien Ogier will be looking for an eighth title in what should be his last full year in the WRC.
Calendar for the 2021 WRC season
January 21-24 - Monte-Carlo Rally
February 26-28 - Arctic Rally (Finland)
April 22-25 - Rally of Croatia
May 20-23 - Rally of Portugal
June 3-6 - Rally of Italy
June 24-27 - Safari Rally (Kenya)
July 15-18 - Rally of Estonia
July 29-August 1 - Rally of Finland
August - Ypres Rally (Belgium)
September 9-12 - Rally of Chile
October 14-17 - Rally of Spain
November 11-14 - Rally of Japan