Monte Carlo rally returns next season to World Rally Championship

Every racing series has its iconic race. F1 has Monaco. NASCAR has Daytona. Indy and Le Mans hardly need any elaboration. And rallying has Monte Carlo. The thing is, the Monte Carlo rally hasn't been part of the World Rally Championship for several years now. But that's about to change.

The legendary event – organized by the same Automobile Club de Monaco that puts on the Monaco Grand Prix and a number of vintage racing events – dates all the way back to 1911, and aside from notable breaks for a couple of world wars, has been held pretty much ever year since. From 1973 through 2008, it was an integral part of the World Rally Championship, but after that it went to the rival Intercontinental Rally Challenge.

A landmark announcement, however, reveals that the Monte Carlo Rally is returning next season to the WRC, but not at the expense of the IRC. Instead, the round will act as the season opener for both rally championships.

The Italian Rally is also scheduled to return next season. An anticipated rally in Abu Dhabi, however, was excluded from the 2012 WRC calendar, which encompasses 13 rounds mostly in Europe. The Jordan Rally, which was so problematic this season, was also excluded, with overseas rounds held only in New Zealand, Mexico and Argentina. However, unlike F1, whose schedule is also set by the FIA, the Latin American rounds are not paired, but instead punctuated by a return to Europe for the rally in Portugal. Follow the jump for the full schedule.
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The dates and venues for the 2012 FIA World Rally Championship are confirmed as follows, with the inclusion of Rallye Monte Carlo and Italy on the calendar.

22/01 MCO Monte Carlo
12/02 SWE Sweden
11/03 MEX Mexico
01/04 PRT Portugal
29/04 ARG Argentina
27/05 GRC Greece * (or 03/06)
24/06 NZL New Zealand
05/08 FIN Finland
26/08 DEU Germany
16/09 GBR Great Britain
07/10 FRA France
04/11 ESP Spain
October ITA Italy *
* Dates subject to confirmation

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