Opinion: is the WRC suffering stage fright?

19 June 2020

World Rally Championship events are dropping like flies. Just after we said farewell to the Safari Rally, Finland, New Zealand and Wales Rally GB also announced that they would be giving 2020 a miss.

New Zealand, in all honesty, wasn’t a big surprise, given the logistical and financial difficulty of getting there, but Finland? That felt more like the abdication of a Pope. Given that the Finnish government had banned large-scale events only until the end of July and the rally wasn’t due until early August, there was a genuine feeling this would go ahead.

Kris Meeke (GB) Sebastian Marshall (GB) of team Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT is seen on day 4 during the World Rally Championship Great Britain in Llandundo, Great Britain on October 6, 2019 // Jaanus Ree/Red Bull Content Pool // AP-21SSUY6J11W11 // Usage for editorial use only //

In theory, this now leaves Turkey as the first rally on the calendar, scheduled for the end of September. But Turkey is still bouncing in and out of lockdown, and a number of WRC stakeholders are expressing unease about the country’s policy of trying to open up at all costs.

More realistically, Germany says that it’s confident of going ahead in October – and that looks like it could actually happen (WRC Promoter is a German company, too). But then we thought the same about Finland…

That leaves Japan at the end of the year, which the rally’s organisers insist will go ahead. Enough time may have passed by then for this to be the case, and there will certainly be no lack of people – especially at Toyota – moving heaven and earth to make it happen.

Add that to the three WRC events that have run already this year (Monte Carlo, Sweden and Mexico) and you have a probable worst-case scenario of two more events this year, so five in total. Is that enough to count as a true world championship? Probably, if enough people agree. These aren’t normal circumstances, after all.

Source: Autocar