The FIA, the governing body for the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship unveiled the schedule for 2007 earlier this month, following a meeting of the Word Motor Sport Council.

As in 2006, seven events will be included on the schedule and like in 2006 registered teams will only be required to nominate six of the seven events on the calendar.

The schedule remains virtually identical to this year, although the Rally of New Caledonia will now open the championship, while the New Zealand event will move from Rotorua and be based north of Auckland in the city of Whangarei. The Rally of Whangarei will use the very fast roads previously part of the WRC's Rally New Zealand.

A statement from the APRC organisers meanwhile added that: "Interest in the championship is already very high [for 2007] with a number of enquires from European and S2000 teams, a four-car team from New Caledonia and a team of Ford Fiesta's planning to run in the N3 class."

Indeed up to six Ford Fiesta ST's could be running on the 2007 APRC. After a very promising trial run in 2006, when New Zealander Mark Tapper ran as high as third in the APRC class at Rally of Rotorua, Neil Allport of Namsport sees a bright future for the Fiesta ST's in the APRC.

"The APRC is an ideal way to gain experience at an international level, seven countries that have a wide variety of surfaces, cultures and climates," he noted. "The Ford Fiesta's have been developed by M-Sport, easy to drive, very strong and above all - cost effective, half the cost of a four-wheel drive Group N car. We're planning to run four to six Fiesta's as one team with everyone enjoying the benefits of a combined arrive and drive package that includes everything from hotels, recce car, mechanics and media promotion."

Subaru WRC driver Chris Atkinson proved a couple of years ago that time spent in the APRC driving smaller 2WD cars can lead to the World Championship. A few months after the 2004 APRC China Rally the young Australian was at the wheel of a Subaru WRC car after landing a drive in the 2005 World Rally Championship. He recently signed a deal that will see him stay at the SWRT for a third year in 2007.

The full calendar for next year is as follows:

2007 FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship calendar.

April 13-15 Rallye de Nouvelle Caledonie New Caledonia
May 11-13 Rally of Whangarei New Zealand
June 1-3 Rally of Canberra Australia
July 6-8 Rally Hokkaido Japan
Aug 10-12 Malaysian Rally Malaysia
Sept 7-9 Rally of Indonesia Indonesia
Nov 23-25 China Rally China

Rally of Thailand will be first reserve event, subject to FIA observation of its 2006 event in November.

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