September 27, 2019 / 12:53 PM / 20 days ago

Japan, Kenya and New Zealand join 2020 WRC calendar

(Reuters) - The World Rally Championship will have three new rounds on its calendar next year, with Japan, Kenya and New Zealand returning to the fold, organisers said on Friday.

The inclusion of Japan and Kenya means the WRC will visit six continents - Europe, North America, South America, Asia, Africa and Australasia - in a single season for the first time.

The 2020 calendar will remain at 14 rounds, meaning rounds in Australia, Spain, and France were dropped.

“It’s no secret we wanted to further globalise the series by incorporating more events outside Europe and we’ve achieved that next year with this exciting new-look calendar,” said Oliver Ciesla, managing director of WRC Promoter, which owns the championship’s commercial rights.

Unlike previous editions of Rally Japan, which were held on the northern island of Hokkaido, the 2020 edition will be an all-asphalt season finale in Nagoya.

Kenya’s iconic Safari Rally, which last ran in 2002, will evolve to fit the modern-day WRC but its characteristics remains with closed dirt roads, scenery and exotic wildlife.

Auckland will host Rally New Zealand, the country’s 33rd WRC appearance, after a seven-year hiatus.

Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge

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