The FIA European Rally Championship round in Latvia has been re-scheduled with the new dates for Rally Liepāja announced as 14-16 August.
Rally Liepāja is hosted in the Latvian countryside around the towns of Talsi and Liepāja, very well-known for its high speed gravel stages.
The rally has seen a lot of dram throughout the years and it has become known as the Baltic Grand Prix.
Last year Oliver Solberg the son of the 2003 FIA World Rally Champion Petter Solberg won the rally. Before that many other well-known drivers have claimed victories there, such as Nikolay Gryazin, Esapekka Lappi and Craig Breen.
“We are very pleased we have found a calendar solution for Rally Liepāja and we thank all those who have made this possible, particularly the FIA.” Jean-Baptiste Ley, ERC Co-ordinator, said.
“Our road map since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis has been to keep as much as possible all rallies included on the original calendar. Clearly this remains challenging given the ever-changing situation and the constant need to respect government restrictions. The health and safety of all remains the absolute priority and will never be compromised, after all.
“In the meantime, the thoughts of the ERC family remain with those whose loved ones have passed or have fallen ill as a result of COVID-19. Many jobs have been lost and people are in very challenging situations so it is vitally important that all official advice is followed.”
From the Latvian ERC promotor RA Events point of view, they are trying every way to host the event safely.
“These are very changing times we are living right now. A lot of news regarding the world-wide pandemic caused by the COVID-19 virus and how countries are responding to control the spread of it, is resulting in rapidly changing circumstances and government sanctions. We as organisers are left in the middle of it – trying to ensure public health, while also finding a way to host a major sports event.” Raimonds Strokšs, Director of RA Events, said.
“As stated before – we are not here to put rally ahead of health and safety of our competitors, spectators, and personnel; thus, together with our partners Eurosport Events, FIA, Government of Latvia, rally cities Liepāja and Talsi, a déjà vu decision has been made to once again reschedule the running of Rally Liepāja to August. It might be just a couple of weeks later, but as there are no long-term decisions, we will try each and every option that is available to host Rally Liepāja in 2020.”
“I would pinpoint that all the parties are working hard to make sure a great Rally Liepāja takes place in Latvia. We will continue our work, consult the experts, and hopefully the situation will normalise and we can all return to on-site rallying. But while we wait that, please follow the guidelines put forth by your local authorities, as that will speed-up the recovery process. Stay safe.”
The Latvian round will be the second round on the new 2020 ERC calendar, after the Polish round which was set to be held on 26-28 July was cancelled. They have also decided it will not be re-scheduled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The season-opener is now set to be held at the Rally Di Roma Capitale in Italy on same dates as the Rally Poland.
The Polish Automobile and Motorcycle Federation (PZM) is also currently working alongside Eurosport Events to find a new date on the 2021 ERC calendar. As by this decision, the 77th running of Rally Poland will be hosted next year instead as the event will be celebrating its 100th anniversary.
“Naturally we are disappointed the ERC won’t be visiting Poland this year, particularly given all the hard work and planning that has been undertaken and the warm welcome we always receive. However, we are already looking ahead to the 77th Rally Poland taking place in 2021 and to joining PZM in celebrating the 100-year milestone, which is a tremendous achievement.” Ley, added.
Rally Poland will not be replaced on the ERC1 Junior and ERC3 Junior calendar, which will now only feature five rounds.
The 77th running of Rally Poland that will happen next year will continued to be hosted in the same location nearby the town of Mikołajki, the rally attracts thousands of fans from all over the world.
“Rally Poland is every year one of the most important, not only motorsport, events on the calendar in our country. Preparations for such a large international competition last almost the whole year, with the rally attracting crowds of fans from Poland and abroad.” Michał Sikora, President of PZM, said.
“The rally is an unenclosed event of a mass nature and it is not possible to carry it out when it is difficult to predict when the existing restrictions will be lifted. There is no alternative for safety of competitors and spectators and no compromise in this area. After numerous consultations with our partners, we took the only reasonable decision to postpone the 77th Rally Poland to next year.”
“We have already declared our will to run our rally as a round of the next year’s European championship. Mikołajki and the picturesque Masurian Lake District will stay as the venue of the event, which will be the setting of the centenary of our classic rally.”