Baltic country will become 33rd nation in history to stage championship round.
Estonia will become the 33rd nation since 1973 in FIA World Rally Championship history to stage a round when the 2020 WRC season restarts from September 4-6 following the release of the revised calendar.
Three rounds in Monte Carlo, Sweden and Mexico were staged before the global pandemic lockdown with six-time champion Sébastien Ogier holding an eight-point advantage over his Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT teammate Elfyn Evans thanks to his victory last time out.
Rally Estonia’s debut joins the fixture list after running as a WRC Promotional Event in 2019 and was announced at a press conference in Tallinn on Thursday attended by Prime Minister Jüri Ratas and WRC Promoter managing director Oliver Ciesla.
It will ensure an emotional weekend for reigning world champion Ott Tänak, who will have the opportunity to compete in front of his home fans for the first time.
Rally Estonia will be a short format event with a shakedown and opening ceremony on Friday, then two legs on Saturday and Sunday. It will be based in Tartu, in the east of the country, with the service park at the Estonian National Museum.
Rally Italia Sardegna, based in Alghero, has been moved up from June to October 29-November 1 and its switch to autumn means crews will face cooler conditions on tough tracks in the north of the Mediterranean island.
Estonia’s gravel road encounter precedes scheduled events in Turkey (September 24-27) and Germany (October 15-18) with Italy the penultimate round before the season-closing return of Japan (November 19-22).
Rally Argentina, which was postponed from April and traditionally attracts almost a million fans to Cordoba province, has unfortunately now been cancelled.
The championship will comprise at least eight events and WRC Promoter will continue its already advanced talks with Ypres Rally (October 2-4), with the aim of presenting Belgium as another available host country shortly. Talks with the Croatian Automobile & Karting Federation will also move forward.
Ciesla said: “Today’s restart announcement sends a clear signal that the 2020 WRC is back in business. WRC Promoter has worked tirelessly with the FIA, our competitors, teams and potential rallies, in exceptional circumstances, to revise the calendar.
“Fans demonstrate huge passion for WRC in both Estonia and Italy. The expectation there, and across the sport in general, will build rapidly from now ahead of September’s championship restart.”
FIA rally director Yves Matton revealed: “I am confident we will secure a minimum of eight events this year and this is thanks to the great commitment and work from organisers.
“Preparations for these rounds are now in full swing while paying the greatest attention to key planning recommendations for mass gatherings in the current Covid-19 context.”
All remaining events are eligible for competitors in the WRC 2 and WRC 3 support categories. Future dates for the FIA Junior WRC Championship will be announced separately.
2020 revised calendar
Monte-Carlo: January 23-26
Sweden: February 13-16
Mexico: March 12-15
Estonia: September 4-6
Turkey: September 24-27
Germany: October 15-18
Italy: October 29-November 1
Japan: November 19-22
*Belgium’s Ypres Rally (October 2-4) and Croatia (TBC) remain as calendar options.