WRC - Rally New Zealand cancelled | Federation Internationale de l'Automobile
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WRC - Rally New Zealand cancelled

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Rally New Zealand organisers today (4 June) confirmed that September’s FIA World Rally Championship event in and around Auckland has been cancelled due to the challenges of the Covid-19 virus.

WRC 2012 - Rally New Zealand - P. Solberg / C. Patterson (DPPI)

With three months until the planned return of the WRC event on 3 - 6 September, but with the New Zealand borders remaining closed to international visitors for the foreseeable future, the organisers had reached their final deadline.

“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,” said Rally New Zealand CEO Michael Goldstein.

“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.”

“The event has a strong WRC heritage and I’m sure the drivers would have loved to be back on its iconic stages or discover them for the first time. Motorsport New Zealand and the organising team have done a fantastic work so far and we are already looking ahead to the rally taking place in the near future."

The announcement comes a day after August’s Neste Rally Finland was called off and WRC Promoter managing director Oliver Ciesla said it was essential to put the health and safety of both the entire WRC family and the population in host countries as the top priority.

“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,” he said.

“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.”