Rally championship adds Monza to end season
The World Rally Championship (WRC) on Friday added an eighth race to their coronavirus-hit calendar to be raced on the asphalt at Monza on 4-6 December.
The rally will use the "WRC short format schedule, featuring about 220km of special stages, with the majority of the first and last day action at the circuit," said a WRC statement.
"Saturday's middle leg speed tests will comprise demanding closed public roads in the Lombardy region," it added.
The season was scheduled to have 13 rounds starting in January in Monte Carlo and ending in November in Japan before the season was heavily disrupted by the pandemic. The addition of the Monza race takes the revised total to eight races.
"As the final round of the championship, there's a strong chance both the drivers' and manufacturers' WRC titles could go right down to the wire on Monza's roads," said Jona Sibel of the WRC.
"The WRC prides itself on rewarding rallying's best all-round driver across multiple terrains and varied conditions. This type of rally is rare in our championship but will provide a thrilling finale to an unpredictable year," he added.
International Automobile Federation (FIA) rally director Yves Matton said the format demonstrated that the sport could move away from the format that has made races so difficult to organise this year.
"In the current situation, we’re developing new approaches," said Matton, adding that Monza is "the marriage of an iconic circuit event and more traditional rally stages in the nearby countryside.
"This new concept could eventually help bring the WRC to countries or regions where new formats are required,” Matton added.
It will be the second event contested on Italian soil in 2020, following the Sardinia Rally, scheduled for June but postponed until this weekend because of the pandemic.
Angelo Sticchi Damiani, Automobile Club d'Italia president, said the club had also discussed adding Monza as a "contingency event" for next season.
The Monza Rally is traditionally an end-of-season motorsports "show" event in which drivers and riders from different disciplines compete. MotoGP star Valentino Rossi has won it seven times.