Abu Dhabi's chances of running a round of the World Rally Championship in the near future appear to have been cast into doubt following a statement that the emirate's candidate WRC round will not run until December 2011.
Abu Dhabi caused a stir when it was included in North One Sport's 2011 calendar proposed to the World Motor Sport Council by the sport's promoter. It was removed and replaced by the Jordan Rally, with an expectation that, following a candidate event this December, there was a strong possibility Abu Dhabi would feature in WRC 2012. Postponing the candidate event looks to have put that back to at least 2013.
The Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority statement said: "Rally Abu Dhabi will now debut in December 2011 as a candidate event for consideration on the WRC 2012 calendar." The problem with that is that a December candidate event cannot be considered for the following season's calendar.
WRC Commission president Morrie Chandler said: "I hadn't heard that, but it sounds like it would be the same problem [as this year, running in December ruled Abu Dhabi out for 2011]. Four weeks ago they said they wished to be observed, but they didn't put a date on it. The FIA's not going to allow them in without observing them."
Chandler added that he would work to find a solution, pointing out that Abu Dhabi's investment in the WRC should not be ignored.
"It's excellent what they have done and we shouldn't ignore them," he said. "Maybe they just have to work at it. They certainly have the funding, so, probably, they could deliver."
The ADTA added: "In spite of our disappointment at this decision [not to be included in WRC 2011], we will continue to maintain strong momentum, due diligence and proactive energy in our aspiration to stage a successful candidate event in 2011."