Russia will meet all the requirements and expectations necessary to gain a place in the World Rally Championship in 2010, organisers have said, following the successful running of their first candidate event last weekend.
The Novorossiysk Rally of Russia 2008, which was won by Alexander Zheludov, attracted 47 entrants and comprised 225 competitive kilometres, run in mountain areas on the coast of the Black Sea.
While a number of competitors had problems, Sergey Uspenskiy, chairman of the Novorossiysk Rally of Russia and first vice president of the RAF, maintained that the twelve stages were well up to WRC standard.
"Compared to the WRC rounds the roads here were completely smooth, so the problems many crews experienced were connected with the level of their preparations," he explained. "I'd say that many of our drivers are just not ready for such a difficult route.
"The roughness of roads we witnessed was somewhere below average level for world rallies, so the roads were in a perfect condition. Those who want to compete at the world level must understand that this rally isn't anywhere near as tough as some of the legendary WRC events.
"Still we put huge efforts into the route's preparation. For example, we used about 300 tones of gravel to prepare only one special stage - Neberdzhay - and the FIA's observers were pleasantly surprised with the way we had approached the organisation of the rally.
"We have two more years to prove we deserve a place in the WRC calendar, and we're confident we can make this event even better and meet all the requirements and expectations."
Zheludov meanwhile was absolutely delighted to take the victory in his Tommi Makinen Racing-built Subaru Impreza N12 as it allowed him to clinch the Russian Rally title for the second time.
In the end he finished around seven minutes up on Sergey Naryshkin's Ford Fiesta ST, while Mikhail Milov came in third.
"We were one of only a few crews to go the distance without using the SupeRally on this difficult event," he said following his fourth win of the year and his third in a row. "There is no point talking of what could have been had our rivals stayed in the fight. They failed to preserve their cars and make it to the finish, while we did and succeeded. Our victory is deserved."