Belgium replaces Japan on 2020 WRC calendar

Rally Japan has been axed from the 2020 WRC calendar and been replaced by a new event in Belgium.

Belgium replaces Japan on 2020 WRC calendar

Japan had kept its slot on this year's schedule when the FIA revealed a refreshed calendar in the wake of multiple events being cancelled in the wake of the global coronavirus pandemic.

The East Asian country's first WRC event since 2010 was due to take place on November 19-22 but has had to be called off due to ongoing border restrictions.

Now the date has been take over by the asphalt-based Ypres Rally, giving Belgium a round of the world championship for the first time.

A statement said the rally will comprise around 300km of special stages across three days, including a Power Stage featuring elements of the iconic Spa-Francorchamps circuit.

“We’re very disappointed Rally Japan will not happen this year due to the pandemic, in particular given all the hard work undertaken by the Japanese authorities, the Japanese Automobile Federation and the organising team," said FIA rally director Yves Matton.

“Belgium has a great tradition and passion for rally, evidenced by the number of Belgians in various roles – drivers, mechanics, team principal, journalists – in the WRC.

"The route will showcase the DNA of the rally as it crosses the country by linking Ypres to Spa-Francorchamps, two iconic venues of Belgian motorsport."

Belgium's addition to the WRC calendar comes as a boost to Thierry Neuville's title hopes, as the Hyundai driver won the Ypres Rally in 2018.

Craig Breen, who rejoins Hyundai for next month's Rally Estonia, won in Ypres last year.

Revised 2020 WRC calendar:

Round  Rally  Date 
1 Monte-Carlo  23 - 26 January 
2 Sweden  13 - 16 February 
3 Mexico  12 - 15 March 
4 Estonia  4 - 6 September 
5 Turkey  18 - 20 September 
6 Germany  15 - 18 October 
7 Italy  29 October - 1 November 
8 Belgium 19 - 22 November 
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Turkey date change opens door for Belgian WRC round
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