Rarely have travel regulations been pored over quite so studiously as this week. But it looks to have done the job. The British contingent of the World Rally Championship looks set to arrive in Gap for the start of next week’s Monte Carlo Rally.
Following a decision from French prime minister Jean Castex to introduce new quarantine regulations from Sunday night, most are travelling early following a negative coronavirus test result.
M-Sport was the organization hit hardest by the new rules, but team principal Richard Millener was fulsome in his praise for the work from the FIA, WRC Promoter and Automobile Club de Monaco in getting the Cumbrians to round one.
“I’m not going to lie to you, it’s been a pretty intense week,” Millener told DirtFish. “And it’s not finished yet.
“But the news is that we will be on the start line on Thursday. We have the necessary exemptions in place to get there and we have – with the help of from the promoter, the FIA and the [event] organizer – found solutions.”
Millener admitted M-Sport wouldn’t be fielding its full squad, adding: “We have had to make some sacrifices in the team and people who were already doing two jobs are now going to find they’re doing four jobs. The important thing was to get there. It hasn’t been easy or straightforward, but this is a team which finds a way through these things.”
Beyond the COVID-19 aspect of travelling to Gap, Millener added that Brexit had brought further complications.
“We knew Brexit would make things a bit more complex,” he said. “We were some of the first hauliers to be crossing the Channel under these new regulations, so we were working to understand the new carnet rules and how everything worked as we were going along.
“On top of that, we’ve obviously been working under a lockdown in England and on a limited staff at Dovenby Hall. Just getting things like the COVID-19 testing done for the whole team and getting it done in that crucial 72-hour window has been something of a military operation. We’ve done the testing on site and then driven the tests to the lab to expedite the results.
“We’re committed to the World Rally Championship and we had to do everything possible to get to round one. When we get there, we know it’s not going to be an easy one with no shakedown and straight into the first stage. But it’s the Monte and anything can happen.”