Rally New Zealand has been officially called off by the event organisers. The returning rally was set to be the next scheduled round for the 2020 FIA World Rally Championship but will now not take place.
New Zealand borders remain closed with just three months until the rally was due to take place, so a decision had to be made.
Rally New Zealand CEO Michael Goldstein said: “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.
“Over the last 12 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.”
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.”
In the last 24 hours, the next two WRC events have been cancelled leaving Rally Turkey on 24 September as the next round on the calendar.
WRC Promoter managing director Oliver Ciesla said health and safety of everybody was at first and how the rest of the season will play out is already in discussion: “The return of Rally New Zealand would have been one of the season’s highlights and we hope the opportunity to return to Auckland will come back.
“My thanks go to both the event organisers and Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) for their hard work and enthusiasm in bringing New Zealand back to the WRC calendar.
“The FIA, WRC Promoter and individual event organisers continue to work closely together regarding the 2020 calendar going forward. Once all options have been identified and studied, we will confirm the shape of the calendar for the rest of the season.”