The 2013 Africa Rally Championship calendar is out with the Shell Pearl of Africa Uganda Rally placed in August as the Zimbabwe Rally opts out.
The Pearl Rally which was held midway the season last July has been shifted to the second half of the championship as the fifth round.
Should a single crew dominate the championship early, the Pearl Rally might suffer a low entry by international competitors.
The Rallye Bandama of Ivory Coast is back on the calendar as the opening round but the only event in West Africa never attracts competitors from East, Central and Southern Africa due logistical challenges.
Zimbabwe pulled out of the 2013 championship citing financial constraints and promised to return in 2014.
Should none of the title contenders pick points from Rallye Bandama, then the highly competitive Sasol Rally in South Africa will virtually be the starting point which offers hope for the Pearl Rally.
With the Zimbabwe Rally out of the Africa Rally Championship series, the real battle will be in the Zambia International Rally, the home turf for reigning African champion Mohammed Essa and then move to Tanzania and Kenya.
The outcome of the contest in these three rounds will have a bearing on the participation of title contenders in the Pearl Rally. Certainly Uganda national champion Jas Mangat will travel down South in a bid to capture the African title.
The Rwanda Mountain Gorilla Rally and Madagascar Rally remain at the bottom of the calendar which has always denied them quality international competition from Africa.
Africa Rally Championship calendar 2013
March 1-3: Rallye Bandama (Ivory Coast)
April 18-20: April Sasol Rally (S. Africa)
May 17-19: Zambia International Rally
June 14-16: June Rally of Tanzania
July 5-7: KCB Safari Rally (Kenya)
August 16-18: Shell Pearl of Africa Uganda Rally
September: Rwanda Mountain Gorilla Rally
November 1-3: Madagascar International Rally