The proposed calendar for next year's World Rally Championship has not been ratified by today's World Motor Sport Council meeting in Bahrain.
The WMSC has instructed FIA president Jean Todt, WRC Commission president Morrie Chandler and North One Sport, the WRC's promoter, to "further consider the World Rally calendar." A final version of the calendar is to be decided, according to the FIA's communication from the meeting, no later than April 16.
North One Sport proposed a 15-round calendar at last month's meeting of the WRC Commission. The calendar, which would start with Rally Poland if the Monte Carlo Rally organizers decided to remain in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge for a third successive season, included a brand-new event in Abu Dhabi – at the expense of Rally Jordan, the first WRC event ever to run in the Middle East.
Abu Dhabi's inclusion, while commercially sensible given the Emirate's heavy investment in the sport, has not been greeted with universal acclaim from the sporting side of the world championship.
The candidate event for a Yas Marina-based event does not run until December and, as an AUTOSPORT source put it: "There are concerns about the way one event looks set to jump into the championship at a time when calendar slots are extremely precious. This is something which will need more talking about.
"But, at the same time, it would have been nice to have come away from today's meeting with a firm decision on the calendar for next season, particularly after North One Sport has put so much time into it."
The inclusion of Abu Dhabi on the provisional calendar was boosted by the UAE's vice president of the FIA Mohammed Ben Sulayem, who stated: "I am convinced that now is the right time to bring the WRC to Abu Dhabi."