A desire to make the World Rally Championship more of a global contest could help bring the series back to New Zealand in the coming years.
The championship has been very European-focused in recent times as the sport struggled during the global recession. But over the past couple of years there has been some real growth and a number of countries have been lobbying to be included on an expanded calendar.
New Zealand last hosted a round of the WRC in 2012 while the championship made annual visits to just three countries - Australia, Mexico and Argentina – outside Europe in the time since.
Rally New Zealand organisers made a strong push to bring the championship back for this season; lobbying the promoter for more than a year to no avail despite putting together a strong bid. The more lucrative Rally Turkey was included when the calendar was announced late last year and there were fears that the best drivers on the planet would never again visit arguably the world's best rally roads.
But there appears to be a real push to make the championship a truly global spectacle again giving hope to Kiwi fans. Chile, Japan and a Safari Rally in Kenya have emerged as events likely to be included over the next season or two while others, including New Zealand, continue to push their case.
The WRC is likely to expand to 14 events next year. Motorsport.com reported this week that Chile and Japan will feature while Rally France – currently held on the island of Corsica – would disappear.
Kenya will hold a candidate event next year with an eye to being included in 2020.
The article claimed 11 rallies including eight outside Europe had expressed an interest in joining the championship.
Rally New Zealand chairman Peter Johnston confirmed they were still pushing to get back onto the world championship calendar.
"We are actively talking to the promoter about bring the World Rally Championship back to New Zealand," Johnston told The Herald.
"There appears to be a shift to make the championship more global and we would like to be part of that.
"We will continue to work on achieving our goal."
It is understood that any New Zealand bid would be for the 2020 championship at the earliest.