Breaking into the US market has been identified as a key objective by the WRC, having last hosted a round in North America in 1988 – the Olympus Rally.
Last year, plans to revive Rally USA emerged with a brand new event located in Chattanooga in southeast Tennessee, utilising gravel roads located in in the Cherokee National Forest and around the Ocoee River region in Polk County.
The planning committee for the project features an experienced group of rally competitors and organisers, while also benefitting from the support of the American Rally Association (ARA), Chattanooga Tourism, the State of Tennessee, regional governments and private sponsors.
A demonstration event was held in September last year which was observed by the FIA’s safety delegate Michele Mouton. Another event is now planned for 14-16 June that will mimic a WRC event schedule to some degree with organisers hoping to attract overseas privateers.
It is hoped a candidate rally can be held next year ahead of a possible inclusion on the 2026 WRC calendar.
A contingent from Rally USA, led by rally manager Stuart Wood, attended last weekend’s WRC season opener in Monte Carlo as part of a fact-finding mission.
“We have to do a series of events to build. We had an event in the fall [Autumn] that was small, we have a number of training events. We have an event this summer, and then the goal would be to have the next one or something in 2025 and maybe be the observed events,” Wood told Motorsport.com.
“It’s not a certainty at the moment, but the event in June will be a stepping stone towards that [candidate event] and then the goal will be to be observed and it be able to be on the calendar in ’26 or ’27, but that’s what we’re looking at.”
Miki Biasion / Tiziano Siviero, Lancia Delta.
The WRC is determined not to rush its move into the USA as it wants to ensure it creates an event with a lasting legacy.
“The USA will not be ready for 2025, 100%,” said WRC event director Simon Larkin.
“When we go to the US, we want to do more than just go there and do a rally. We want to have an event that’s going to have an impact, because it’s a market that is important, but we don’t just want to go there and make up the numbers.
“We want to make sure it’s an event that has sufficient funding but also sufficient time to test. We already have great support from both the state and regional government in our potential home there. It’s just a few funding…