The opening round of the 2016 FIA European Rally Championship, Rally Liepaja, will not go ahead on it’s scheduled date, February 5-7, due to unexpected weather conditions. Warm temperatures in Latvia this week have resulted in the snow and ice melting making conditions unsuitable for rallying.
The event organisers have taken the decision to postpone the event on safety grounds.
“Rally is the combination of multiple complex aspects that together make for a safe event.” said Clerk of the Course, Jānis Krastiņš. “The most important of those is the safety of both drivers and spectators. In these conditions, when the roads are wet and soft, even the first few cars will destroy the roads so much that in case of an accident the medical and rescue team would have difficulty to quickly get through the stage.
“Some have said that it would be possible to organise the event if we just switch from studded tyres to gravel tyres. To that, I would like to mention that this is not possible not only because of FIA regulations, but also would be more dangerous for the participants. On such wet and soft roads, gravel tyres would have very little grip, and the chance of uncontrollable soaring would significantly increase.
With the event also taking place on public roads the decision was also made with the local residents in mind as the potential damage to the road surface which is in daily use could cause massive disruption.
A new date for the event will require approval from the FIA World Motor Sport Council and communication is already under way between the event organisers and the ERC promoter, Eurosport Events. As it stands at the moment the opening round of the 2016 ERC will now be 40 Rally Islas Canarias El Corte Inglés on March 10.