The 2016 World Rally Championship calendar has been published by the WRC Promoter, with China being confirmed for a return to the series after a 17-year absence.
The 14-round championship begins at its traditional starting point Rallye Monte-Carlo on the 22-24 January before traveling to five continents and across a mix of gravel, asphalt, snow and ice surfaces.
Wales Rally GB has been shifted forward to become the penultimate round of the 2016 calendar on the 28-30 October as Rally Australia acts as the season finale on the 18-20 November, a move believed to have been made to reduce shipping and transport costs.
Asia makes a return to the WRC scene, with Rally China returning for the first time since 1999. The all-asphalt event will run as the 10th round on 9-11 September, based in the Huairou district just 70km from central Beijing.
WRC Promoter managing director Oliver Ciesla said the 2016 calendar offered a mix of tradition and innovation.
“It brings an enticing blend of the WRC's heritage, in the form of classic and long-standing events such as Sweden, Argentina and Finland, with a new and exciting challenge on asphalt roads in China,” Ciesla said. “We welcome China back to the series and look forward to working with a successful and highly experienced organisation.
“China is the biggest car market globally and by taking the WRC there, we offer manufacturers the opportunity to showcase their products via a championship focused on production-based vehicles. Its return was unanimously supported by our participating manufacturers.
“Another major change sees Australia become the final round. The Coffs Harbour rally is driven by an enthusiastic organising team with a refreshing attitude to promotional opportunities, and fully deserves its place as the season's final fixture.”
2016 WRC calendar:
30 September - 2 October
* Inclusion remains subject to formalisation of contracts with FIA and WRC Promoter.
** Inclusion remains subject to fulfillment of FIA requirements after candidate event.