New Zealand is in a two-horse race with Croatia to get an additional round of the World Rally Championship next year, according to the sport's most renowned journalist.

David Evans of Autosport believes the two countries are vying for inclusion on an expanded calendar for 2018 with New Zealand being the preferred choice of German promoter Oliver Ciesla.

Rally New Zealand has been lobbying for a return to the WRC for the first time since 2012 and leading Kiwi driver Hayden Paddon has been front and centre in its push for inclusion.

"I don't need to tell you about New Zealand," Ciesla told the magazine.


"There is a big passion to go there with Hayden [Paddon] and even though we won't see the highest number of on-site spectators, we have these beautiful roads which we can use to make great television.

"I am very much in favour of this."

Autosport believes a September time slot would be most likely.

There are a couple of hoops for the proposed event to jump through before they would be confirmed. They need enough funding to stage the event as well as WRC approval.

The Herald on Sunday understands the Government has promised some funding but not enough to get it across the line. Some additional sponsorship is still required to ensure the event's return.

Rallying is thriving with a renaissance at home and abroad. The explosion of AP4-spec cars in the domestic championship has made for the most interesting and closely-fought competition in memory while the 2017 world championship has seen four different winners in four different make of cars.

A final decision around the calendar is expected by September.