Rally New Zealand look towards the future after WRC event cancelled
Rally New Zealand organisers today confirmed that the 2020 FIA World Rally Championship event in and around Auckland in September has been cancelled due to the ongoing challenges with the Covid-19 pandemic.
With three months until the planned return of the WRC event, but with the New Zealand borders remaining closed to international visitors for the foreseeable future, the organisers had reached their final deadline.
“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 Rally New Zealand 2020 CEO, Michael 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.”
While WRC Promoter and FIA are yet to finalise their 2021 calendar, Rally New Zealand organisers are optimistic that the country’s iconic roads will be a feature of the WRC schedule. Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) Steve Armitage – General Manager Destination said while Auckland will miss out on the opportunity to host the WRC in September, the prospect of a potential 2021 event is exciting.
“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” Mr Armitage said.
FIA Rally Director Yves Matton said: “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.”