Level One may have brought back freedom, unrestricted travel and queueless supermarkets, but it will not see the return of the New Zealand Rally Championship; a decision organisers are standing by.
In early May, the NZRC declared the indefinite cancellation of the 2020 season.
The decision came during alert level 3 and amid a period where the nation was beginning to successful tackle Covid-19.
Response was mixed, with several drivers agreeing with the cancellation while an handful of irated competitors thought the decison was hastily pushed ahead.
But while New Zealand motorsport has already begun making its return to the track, the NZRC team are adamant the decsion to can the year was the right call.
“Absolutely we stand by the decision we made regarding the cancellation of the championship and a lot of competitors have been thankful that we made a clear decision early,” NZRC series coordinator Blair Bartels told Velocity News.
“The nature of rallying and the process of putting events on is not quite as simple as doing so on a circuit or a single venue sprint, with multiple road closures to be managed including resident visits.
“To start from level one, where all event organisers agreed was where we could start the process of organising an event, realistically it is a six week minimum process and more likely longer as the majority of event organisers have regular jobs to work around.
“A lot of events also then run into trouble with lambing in their regions, so to pull together a series of events with appropriate spacing between events into something that could be to the standard of an NZRC was not feasible.”
However, while the decision has seen the national competition axed, it has also become the catalyst for the emergence of unofficial NZ rally events.
The South Island has already published a provisional rallying calendar with the OSCC Circle Hill Rallysprint set to head proceedings as early as next month.
Meanwhile, a stones throw away the North Island are set to announce a revised calendar to ensure natiowide local rallying doesn’t become swept under the carpet as circuit racing returns.
“We do look forward to seeing several lower key rallies in the back half of the year,” added Bartels. “I know the South Island has already confirmed a calendar and the North Island is due to announce a calendar very shortly.
“The NZRC absolutely backs Motorsport NZ and their affiliated clubs in reviving rallying and applauds Motorsport NZ in their new initiative to take some costs out of events during this difficult time for everyone. We hope the events are sufficiently supported and are keen to work with organisers to make this happen.
“We certainly don’t see the need for any further unofficial series outside of those existing series, and certainly not from any other ASNs.”
Bartels concluded by affirming work has begun on scheduling a 2021 NZRC calendar.
“Promoters have been working hard to put together a 2021 calendar and regulations to provide further clarity as we build towards a big season rebuilding the championship in 2021.”
The opening two rounds of the 2020 NZRC in Otago and Whangarei had both been postponed before the decision to cancel the season.
Consequently, it means no champion will be crowned for the 2020 season, the first in the NZRC’s 45-year history.
Main Image: Geoff Ridder