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New Zealand is a big step closer to a World Rally Championship return in 2018, according to Autosport journalist David Evans.

The WRC could return to New Zealand as early as next year. (Photo: Peter Whitten)Evans has reported that New Zealand and Croatia are vying for a place in next year’s calendar - which has been backed up by WRC promoter Oliver Ciesla.

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

"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.

One of the biggest hurdles for New Zealand to overcome before being granted a WRC return is enough funding to run the event.

The New Zealand Herald reported that although the New Zealand Government has promised some funding for the event, it is not enough to get the event over the line, and additional sponsorship will be required.

The 2018 WRC calendar is expected to be announced in September.

- Peter Whitten

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