Motorsport Australia is confident of successfully reintroducing national-level rallying this year with its unveiling of a new four-round late-2020 Australian Rally Championship calendar.
The original plan for the 2020 running of the series, which has been held every year since 1968, was a six-round calendar beginning in March with Canberra’s Netier National Capital Rally.
That counter was postponed at a week’s notice due to the global coronavirus pandemic, and April’s Make Smoking History Forest Rally in Busselton and Nannup suffered the same fate not long after.
Motorsport Australia two weeks ago released a ‘Return to Race’ document which suggested rallying could still go ahead this year behind closed doors and with other precautionary measures such as keeping drivers in their cars between stages and providing hygiene products to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The new revised ARC calendar that has followed also paves the way for Australia’s state rally championships to return to action.
The season-opening National Capital Rally has been rescheduled and remains ARC’s season opener, with a new date of September 26-27.
Next up is Mount Barker’s Adelaide Hills Rally, which has been pushed back two weeks from its original slot to October 17-18, and the trip to Rally Tasmania has been moved from June 19-21 to November 7-8.
The season will conclude with a rally in New South Wales on November 28-29, meaning Ballarat’s Eureka Rush round that was penned for August and the Make Smoking History Forest Rally have been canceled. Organizers of both have stated their intention to return in 2021.
“While there is still some uncertainty about the lifting of restrictions in Australia, we know there are further changes coming and things are looking positive for the second half of the year,” said Motorsport Australia CEO Eugene Arocca.
“This four-round calendar will give competitors a chance to compete in a number of events and will mean the championship will not be overly compromised, despite the delayed start to the year.
“We are also mindful of the logistics around travel and the closeness of events compared to what we see in a ‘normal’ year. Given this, rallies may be shorter in time and distance than in previous years to enable competitors, teams, officials, suppliers and organizers to attend.
“Most importantly for those volunteering their time as officials to make these events happen, we want to make sure they can get back to work as soon as possible.”
Arocca said ARC’s September start is “realistic” but added that “if for whatever reason the COVID-19 situation changes or restrictions do not allow us to compete, we are obviously prepared to make further changes”. He also added that it is too early to say if spectators will be allowed to attend these events.