Organisers of Rally New Zealand say they are taking the current pandemic situation “one step at a time” regarding whether the World Rally Championship will stage a round of their truncated 2020 season in NZ or cancel the event indefinitely.
There has been growing suggestion that the WRC and its teams are unwillingly to travel to New Zealand during the global Covid-19 crisis given its remote location and due to the financial and logistical issues as a consequence of transporting team equipment from Europe.
However, CEO of Rally NZ Michael Goldstein admits organisers still have necessary time that could allow the cards to fall their way and ensure the country can host its first WRC round in eight years.
“We are in regular contact with them [the WRC] but I can’t make any comment yet,” Goldstein told Velocity News
“But obviously New Zealand’s boarders are closed and everyone is aware of that around the world. But we need to work through that with the promoter and make an announcement together in due course.
“We just have to take it one step at a time, So watch this space.”
The WRC has been frozen in a coronavirus-induced suspension since March with Rally Portugal being cancelled earlier in the year and was followed by the postponement the Safari Rally of Kenya.
But with efforts to get the WRC up and running within the coming months, it is expected the championship will look to revise a new calendar around a European-based series.
Ultimately this means that flyaway rounds to New Zealand and Japan could face being axed.
When quizzed whether Rally New Zealand thus faces threat of cancellation or if organisers will look to postpone the event towards the latter stages of the calendar, Goldstein admits that nothing can be confirmed while the WRC gets set to ride out the economical wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
“It is something we still working through with the WRC,” he added.
“At the moment Finland is obviously still the next round and nothing has been announced there so that is really the next rally.
“But I don’t know when [an announcement] will be made.”
The 2020 Rally of Finland is currently slated to be stage on August 6 – 9 with confirmation of the event’s future set to be announced in the coming weeks.
Rally New Zealand remains scheduled to host the following round on September 3 – 6 before the series returns to Europe.
Image: Francois Baudin