The most diverse Internationale du ‘Il Automobile (FIA) World Rally Championship (WRC) season zooms off in 109th Rallye Monte Carlo along the French Riviera in the Principality of Monaco on Thursday next week.
The season will see newcomers race in the Safari Rally in Kenya, Rally New Zealand and in Japan.
The eighth round in the series, the Safari Rally, returns after 18 years from July 16-19.
It is the most eagerly-awaited event in the World Rally Championship Series and reflects the continental profile of the championship which previously was accused of being too much Euro-centric. New Zealand (South pacific) and Japan (Far East) now complete the truly global championship outlook.
Japan’s Aichi-based Asphalt Rally last held in 2010 will conclude the season on November 19-22. The sports-mad New Zealand will host the 10th round from September 3-6.
New Zealand has been absent in the series for seven years and the roads outside the capital Auckland historically described by drivers as inviting and a joy to drive through is a welcome addition.