UK rallying suffers fresh coronavirus setback

Non-elite championships facing the cut as England goes into second lockdown

Tom Cave / Dale Bowen Hyundai i20 R5

The prospect of rallies happening at all in the UK in 2020 is looking incredibly bleak after confirmation on Monday from governing body Motorsport UK that all ‘non-elite’ motorsport will be suspended until December 2.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that England would be heading into a four-week lockdown on Saturday, to come into effect on Thursday November 5.

Motorsport UK has therefore consulted with the government’s department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to find out what motorsport can and can’t run. While categories like the British Touring Car Championship will be permitted to continue, the Circuit Rally Championship – which was the sole surviving series in the UK this year – has been classed as ‘non-elite.’

The series opener was due to take place this Saturday (November 7) at Oulton Park, with the second round of the series at Cadwell Park scheduled a fortnight later.

Due to coronavirus cancelling several events and championships, the Circuit Championship had attracted a bigger entry than normal with WRC2 driver Rhys Yates and British Rally Championship star Ollie Mellors both throwing their hat into the ring.

The news that the first two rallies of an eight-round season is an unwelcome blow to the entire UK rallying scene. Just a handful of rallies have gone ahead since the Malcolm Wilson Rally back in March; the last event to run before the UK’s first lockdown on March 23.

A statement from Neil Howard Stages organizers read: “We are all understandably disappointed at having to make this decision less than seven day until the event, but given the changes in the situation, we are left with no other option,

“As a result of this decision, the event will move to its reserve date on Saturday February 6, 2021. We will now turn our attention to ensuring the event can run smoothly then.”

Any hopes of a stage rally occurring this calendar year now hinge on the length of the English lockdown. The Dukeries Rally at Donington Park is the sole surviving championship rally on December 6, with the UK government targeting December 2 for England to be eased out of a national lockdown.


Words:Luke Barry

Photo:Jakob Ebrey/BRC