Next February’s Rally Sweden has been canceled due to increased government restrictions in the face of rising coronavirus infections.
The County Board of Värmland in Karlstad announced on Tuesday there was no alternative to canceling the second round of the 2021 World Rally Championship season on the grounds of health security.
Rally CEO Glenn Olsson said: “Rally Sweden organizers, the FIA and WRC Promoter fully understand that the health of the local population is of primary concern and are committed to a collective duty of care to protect both the Värmland community and the WRC family.
“During our planning, we have closely monitored what is a constantly evolving COVID-19 situation in the region. While we are naturally extremely disappointed, especially given the exciting new-look itinerary, this is a decision we support.”
The Torsby-based event has endured a torrid time in recent seasons. The 2020 event just about scraped through in conditions which bore little resemblance to winter. Present in Torsby in February, FIA president Jean Todt told DirtFish: “Since a few years now there is not the snow we used to expect and to love for such a rally.
“We know we are facing global warming of the planet – this is why we put so much attention on the environment because of the consequences of the climate change.
“Saying that, I’m sure everybody has learned from this experience.
“The important thing is that the rally is on [this week] and this will not happen again.
“We will make sure [it will not happen again] and this is something we have been discussing already with the organizers and our promoter that we are going to take measures to ensure continuity with the Swedish Rally, but taking into account this experience.”
Olsson made it clear that moving out of Torsby wouldn’t be possible in time for 2021, although a tweaked route was designed, but such a move is understood to be on the cards for the coming seasons.
WRC Promoter is expected to announce the Arctic Rally as a replacement for the February 11-14 event.
DirtFish spoke to Arctic Rally chairman Heikki Poranen on Tuesday morning.
“We are waiting for the decision of the Swedish Rally,” he said. “We will know more sometime this week and we made a decision when we know more about Sweden.”
In addtion to being round two for the top WRC classes, Sweden was expected to have been the opening rally of the 2021 Junior WRC season.