Late South Estonia Rally route change after COVID-19 outbreak

Spectator attendance capped at 1650 as event shortened to Sunday only over eight stages

Ott Tanak (EST)

The route for this weekend’s South Estonia Rally has undergone a late change after an outbreak of COVID-19 cases in Estonia earlier this month.

On advice from the Republic of Estonia Health Board, the Võru-based event has scrapped plans to run two stages through the city and one forest stage on Saturday. The event will now comprise 63 miles and eight gravel stages on Sunday.

Saturday’s planned 9.86 miles of competitive action will be replaced by a day-long shakedown stage, ensuring the massed ranks of World Rally Championship stars will not miss out on any opportunity to test ahead of the WRC’s next round, Rally Estonia (September 4-6).

A spokesperson from the event told DirtFish: “The update [from the Republic of Estonia Health Board] came last week regarding the precautions around massed gatherings. There was a small rise in numbers of coronavirus cases, but already we can see those numbers falling again.

“As a precaution, we decided not to run the city stages – it’s much harder to control the fans in these kinds of places than it is in the forests. As well as canceling those three stages, we won’t run the ceremonial start and finish.

“Shakedown will run for the WRC priority crews from 0930 until 1600, so there will be a good chance to test.”

The 1650 tickets went on sale on Monday morning, with fans required to fill in personal details in an effort to assist in the track and trace process.

“The organizers of the event have worked really hard on the ticketing process,” said the spokesperson.

“Naturally, it’s vital that we know who is buying the tickets and where they’re going and this system allows us to do exactly that. In addition to this, we have a full range of COVID-19 measures in place such as the provision of masks and cleaning points.”

Even with those additional measures in place, those 1650 were the hottest tickets in town and expected to sell out in a matter of hours as fans chased the opportunity to see all three factory WRC teams as well as local hero Ott Tänak in action.

Redgrey Ralli Lõuna-Eesti starts from the Võru service park (which is closed to the public) at 0830 on Sunday. The morning features two loops of two stages with two different stages repeated twice in the afternoon.

Words:David Evans

Photo:Jaanus Ree/Red Bull Content Pool