The organisers of the MSA British Rally Championship have confirmed the schedule for 2009, which will include a new opening round.

Like in previous years, six events will make up the series', however the Wales Rally GB will now be a non-points' scoring event.

In a bid to try and maintain links between the Cardiff-based round and the BRC though, it will host an end of season 'Best of British' celebration.

"By linking with the BRC, the [Wales Rally GB] event organisers are offering incentives and prizes to the newly crowned British overall, junior and class champions and all other registered competitors who have an aspiration to contest the UK's round of the World Rally Championship," explained a statement to the media.

More details on the 'Best of British' celebration will follow later this year.

The 2009 MSA British Rally Championship meanwhile will begin earlier than normal, with the Bulldog International Rally North Wales running at the end of March - preceding the previous season opener, the Pirelli International, by three weeks.

Changes are also afoot with Rally Isle of Man moving a week earlier in the calendar and more significantly, reducing its current three day format down to just two.

Other less significant changes include new stages and a new home in Carlisle for the Pirelli, a Kelso base for the entire Jim Clark Rally and a return to the Friday night and Saturday format.

The Ulster organisers are considering some new stages and host venue too, but negotiations are ongoing and the location is not yet confirmed.

The penultimate round in previous years, Rally Yorkshire, will form the backdrop for the end of season battle. At present this is the only event to remain wholly unchanged, but the organisers are keen to ensure that the rally remains fresh and vibrant.

Speaking about next year's calendar, BRC boss, Mark Taylor added that while they had hoped to add a seventh event to the schedule, this has now been postponed until 2010.

"Mindful of the feedback we have received from competitors and aware of the current and future economic climates, I believe we have provided a mouth watering and exciting Championship calendar which incorporates the best events in the UK. We are seeking to add a seventh rally to the calendar, a gravel event in another region of the UK, but mindful that budgets may be tight in 2009, coupled with difficulties in the cramped calendar, we have postponed this move until 2010," he explained.

"The changes mentioned provide vibrant, more cost effective and exciting rallies that strive to be the highest calibre. Add this to a celebration of the British Champions in front of the rest of the World at Wales Rally GB, next year's BRC promises to be an epic."

The dates for 2009 are as follows:

2009 MSA British Rally Championship calendar:
28 March Bulldog International Rally North Wales, Llangollen 17-18 April Pirelli International Rally, Carlisle, Cumbria 22-23 May Jim Clark International Rally, Kelso, Scottish Borders. 10-11 July International Rally Isle of Man, Douglas, Isle of Man 21-22 August Toddsleap.com Ulster International Rally, TBC, Northern Ireland 26 September International Rally of Yorkshire, Pickering, North Yorkshire

23-25 October Wales Rally GB, Cardiff, Wales*

* Non-points scoring event. The last round of the 2009 WRC will include celebrating the 'Best of British', showcasing the newly crowned British Driver and Co-driver, Junior, Class and Cup Champions in front of the world's media.

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