Blow to WRC calendar as Ypres canceled

With national lockdown looming in Belgium, organizers are expected to call off asphalt event

Tom Preston / Stuart Loudon Skoda Fabia R5

The scheduled penultimate World Rally Championship round of the 2020 season, the Ypres Rally, has been canceled, event organizers have confirmed.

The move comes as no surprise following a significant rise in coronavirus numbers in the country. The Belgian government meets this afternoon to discuss its next move, with a national lockdown widely expected to mirror the strategy followed by neighbors France and Germany.

Local media in Ypres already started broadcasting news of the event’s demise earlier on Friday.

One source told DirtFish: “The way things have been coming in the last days, it was a bit inevitable.

“That doesn’t make the decision easier though, this is so hard to take for rally in this country. We had the chance to bring a dream. But we have to think to the people and the communities. Right now, the world is not about rallying.”

Formal confirmation of the cancellation came shortly after DirtFish broke the news.
Emmily Talpe, the Mayor the City of Ypres, said in a statement: “We have always fully supported Renties Ypres Rally Belgium, but this time we can’t let the rally go on.

“We took this decision in close consultation with Governor of West Flanders, Carl Decaluwé, and the mayors of the other municipalities.”

Reaction to the Ypres’s cancellation, Jan Huyghe from the event’s organizer Club Superstage said the focus on the health situation took priority.

“At the moment, the health of the population, of the staff in the care sector, of our employees and volunteers, of the participants and of all rally fans comes first,” he said.

“We have followed up the health crisis in close consultation with the local authorities. Unfortunately, the figures continued to rise dramatically. The Ypres Rally has been at the forefront of safety in Europe for years. This time, health is also on the rise.

The loss of Ypres leaves Monza Rally as the concluding round of the series in December.