The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has forced the cancellation of Wales Rally GB, scheduled to take place between October 29-November 1.
The uncertainty around international travelling restrictions and mass gatherings in the UK in the coming months has meant the organisers have decided to cancel the British round of the FIA World Rally Championship for 2020.
Wales Rally GB was also set to play host to the final rounds of the FIA Junior World Rally Championship and the British Rally Championship, where crowds of up-to 100,000 spectators were expected to visit over the three-day event.
A disappointed David Richards CBE, Chairman of Motorsport UK, said on the cancellation: “This is not a decision that we have taken lightly but, in close consultation with our chief funding partner the Welsh Government, it is sadly one we are obliged to make in light of the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic.”
“We have been closely monitoring the guidance issued by Government and it is becoming increasingly clear that it is impossible to make plans with any certainty for such major events in the autumn. We therefore have to accept, with an incredibly heavy heart, that cancelling this year’s event is the only responsible and prudent option. We will instead start focusing our attentions on creating an even bigger and better world-class showcase for 2021.”
The event has now joined the ever-growing list of WRC events to be affected by the COVID-19 crisis, after both the events in Finland and New Zealand were called off last week.
Richards went on to explain why the decision has been made to cancel 2020 Wales Rally GB: “In recent years, the huge appeal of the latest generation of World Rally Cars plus the presence of local star Elfyn Evans – a winner in 2017 – have drawn record crowds to the wonderful Welsh forests, but this is not the appropriate time for us to be planning for and promoting an event that brings tens of thousands of visitors, many from outside the country, into rural Welsh communities.”
He continued: “As the governing body of UK motorsport, our overriding responsibility and absolute priority is always the safety of all involved whether they be competitors, officials, spectators or the many thousands of volunteers who share our passion for this sport, and we thank them all for their ongoing support and enthusiasm in these difficult times.”
“While significant progress is being made to combat the virus, there remains considerable uncertainty regarding mass gatherings, social distancing and travel restrictions, plus the possibility of a resurgence of viral transmission later in the year.”
Rally GB has been one of the longest-standing events on the WRC calendar and has been based in Wales since 2000, with it generating approximately £9 million into the economy of the local area every year.
So far, only three rounds of the 2020 FIA World Rally Championship have been completed, with Toyota’s Sebastien Ogier leading the Drivers Standings.