After much speculation Rally New Zealand organisers have today confirmed that the 2020 World Rally Championship round in Auckland has been cancelled amid the global Covid-19 pandemic.
Rally New Zealand CEO Michael Goldstein says that, while the event was not slated to go ahead until September, the uncertainty surrounding when and how the country’s borders will open has meant the event was no longer feasible.
“It became clear that with our borders closed to international travel and the logistics required to host thousands of international visitors as part of the World Rally Championship, that the September 2020 date was not practical,” said Goldstein.
“Over the last twelve months our team have done a huge amount of work to be ready to host a WRC event. We are disappointed to not host the World Rally Championship in 2020 but at the same time the issues around the world put this into context.”
However, Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) General Manager Steve Armitage said that the 2021 event will still feature the iconic roads and stages set for this year’s event and fans should be excited for the potential of 2021.
“ATEED understands and supports the decision to cancel the 2020 event given the current global travel restrictions and uncertainty of when borders will reopen. While we appreciate this will disappoint many motorsport fans, there are clearly a range of practical issues that cannot be resolved in time for the event to proceed as scheduled. Of course, we welcome the opportunity to work with the promoter and the FIA in the future to explore the possibility of this iconic event returning to our shores in 2021” said Armitage in the official statement.
FIA Rally Director Yves Matton added his sentiment to the cancellation of the highly anticipated event
“We were all excited to see New Zealand reclaim its place in the FIA World Rally Championship in 2020 after a seven year absence and we are naturally sad that we will not be able to go there this year.
“The event has a strong WRC heritage and I’m sure the drivers would have loved to be back on its iconic stages or discover them for the first time. Motorsport New Zealand and the organising team have done a fantastic work so far and we are already looking ahead to the rally taking place in the near future.”
The WRC will likely look to revise its 2020 calendar around Europe, where the majority of teams and drivers are based.
The Rally of Turkey now becomes the next event on a heavily truncated calendar, with the four-day event scheduled to go ahead on September 24 – 27.
Main Image: Getty