Coronavirus’s impact on rallying has continued, with DirtFish learning that Rally Costa Brava has lost its European Historic Sporting Rally Championship status after restricting Italian participation.
The Girona-based event is following Spanish Ministry of Health protocol on COVID-19 and in a statement expressed its regret at having to make the move and its support for the Italian people. Italy is the European country worst hit by the global health crisis so far.
The statement said: “Motorsport has also been affected by the coronavirus. After cancellations of Formula 1 and MotoGP races, the Rally Costa Brava has been allowed to continue, at the cost of restricting participation to teams from areas of risk.
“From the organization we want to send a warm hug to our Italian friends who never miss a motor event and, in their honor, we inform that we will keep the Italian flag during the whole official start in the Girona podium next Friday.
“We deeply regret the restriction of participation to Italian teams, with who have been in permanent contact, and we thank them for your understanding of this exceptional measure that as a club we have been obliged to abide by and follow the guidelines of the Spanish Ministry of Health.”
DirtFish has contacted both the rally organizers and the FIA for comment.
World rallying’s highest profile Italian – Hyundai team principal Andrea Adamo – applauded the FIA’s decision.
“The panic is the worst thing I am seeing spreading around at this moment, this is worse than the virus,” Adamo told DirtFish.
Asked if he expected his own travel to next week’s Rally Mexico to be affected, he said: “For us there is no limitation for us to travel. As long as the country we are visiting does not limit the access to our people.
“The problem is if they are scared of the people travelling from abroad and they start to stop Italians or others. In this case I think the FIA should react immediately as they have done for the Spanish round of the European Historic Championship.
“Costa Brava Rally didn’t touch the Italian teams or drivers and FIA cancelled their validity for the championship.
“They look at the passport and see I am Italian, but the last time I was in Italy was the weekend after Monte Carlo and if I should have been affected [by the virus] I would have been over it already. They look at the passport and they stop you.
“Even if I bring my document to say I am living in Germany and a German resident, I don’t know if people care about that at all.”
This weekend’s opening MotoGP round has been cancelled for just this reason, with Qatar wanting to impose quarantine restrictions on Italians visiting the Losail circuit in Doha.
Currently, no such restrictions are in place for travel to León for this week’s Rally México.
The second round of the European Historic Sporting Rally Championship is Italy’s Sanremo Rally Storico on April 2-4.
The future of that event hangs in the balance, with further high-profile events like next week’s Rally il Ciocco already postponed.