Does WRC need a COVID calendar buffer?

Seven-time WRC champion Ogier has praised the gap between the opening rounds and Rally Croatia


As the World Rally Championship waits for decisions on the potential re-organization of its first two rounds, Sébastien Ogier has praised the deployment of a ‘COVID-buffer’ ahead of a third event in Croatia in late April.

Like the rest of the service park, the seven-time world champion sits and waits to find out if his home region of Gap will allow the Monte Carlo Rally to go ahead. A decision is expected from the regional council in the Hautes-Alpes area on Thursday.

Ogier voiced his concerns to DirtFish late last year, saying: “After all the Christmas and New Year celebrations, which you will never be able to completely stop the people [meeting], it will again start a new wave [of coronavirus] from what I understood.

“Then I believe the chance that Monte is happening is also not that big.”

Independent of the decision about Monte Carlo, AKK (Finnish motorsport’s governing body) will make a call on a Rovaniemi-based Rally Sweden replacement in the coming days. 

After that, the WRC is not planning any further action until April 22, when Rally Croatia hosts a round of the WRC for the first-time in the event’s history. 

Ogier added: “The good thing we can see in our calendar right now, is that there will only be two rallies at the beginning of the year and then quite a long break before it restarts. And maybe that gives us the chance that the [COVID-19] situation gets a bit better before we return.”

One series insider told DirtFish: “We have two winter rallies in Monte and Sweden or whatever Sweden becomes. Clearly, those are not events which can be shifted to the spring or summer. Building in this kind of COVID-buffer is sensible. Last season, like all sports around the world, the WRC lost a lot of events quite quickly to coronavirus.

“The two-month gap between February and late April gives time for the world to come through lockdowns and hopefully allow some degree of normality to return to global travel.”