The 2020 Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship has been cancelled with MotorSport New Zealand and championship promoters opting to future-proof the sport in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The decision was made so the sport can be reset and be in a position strong enough to return to normal in 2021 rather than feel the full economic effects of the pandemic which could carry on for a number of years
The first two rounds of the championship at Otago and Whangarei were already postponed because of the governemnt-induced nationwide lockdown, while the remaining events were unlikely to be sustainable.
The lengthy lead-in times needed to organise each rally, along with the need for the country to tighten its belts due to the anticipated economic aftershocks of the coronavirus pandemic, meant strong entry numbers would not be a certainty.
“It was a really difficult call to make but one we know is best for the long-term health of our sport,” NZRC coordinator Blair Bartels said.
“We love rallying; it is something we are super passionate about and it is really hard to make a call that means there will be less of it this year but we have to be pragmatic through these unprecedented times.
“The economic fallout will be significant, and it is just not practical to think entry numbers will be strong enough this season to make events sustainable at a national championship level, especially with so many of our competitors being small business owners.
“There will still be club events and there may be an appetite for a couple of one-off events and that opens up some exciting possibilities.
“The securing of Brian Green Property Group as title sponsor for an 11th season gives the championship some certainty and we greatly appreciate the unconditional support Brian and his team has shown to the championship and it gives us a strong platform to begin work planning next season.”
MotorSport New Zealand’s General Manager of Motorsport, Elton Goonan, said the decision was made by looking beyond Covid-19 as the key for the strength of the sport moving out of the pandemic.
“Covid-19 has had a massive impact on everything globally, including motorsport and sadly the NZRC,” said Goonan.
“Like all sports, we have a responsibility to look out for not only the health and safety of our people but also the viability and health of the sport itself.
“We’re confident this is the right decision for the NZRC and we look forward to a strong 2021 Championship. Our sport and our people are resilient, and we will come through the other side of this.”
There has been no word on the status of Rally New Zealand with event organisers committed to ensuring the event can go ahead as planned in September.
Image: Geoff Ridder