Ogier fears for 2020’s flyaway rallies

WRC leader suspect long-haul events are now most at risk

Sebastien Ogier

World Rally Championship leader Sébastien Ogier has admitted he fears for the immediate future of this year’s long-haul events in the wake of COVID-19.

With news of the Safari Rally’s postponement expected imminently, that would leave flyaway rounds in New Zealand and Japan still on the calendar.

There are more and more questions being asked about the potential for repositioning the postponed Rally Argentina and a trip to Kenya into a second half of a season that will already need logistically more straightforward rallies in Portugal and Sardinia to be shoehorned in.

With car manufacturers having closed their doors on production right now, Ogier wonders whether budgets will stretch to taking the WRC to Auckland and Nagoya.

The six-time world champion told French newspaper L’Équipe: “All the costly trips [to New Zealand or Japan] will be complicated because the constructors will be badly hit by the situation and measures will have to be taken to cut costs.

“I hope it will be possible to have five other rallies, but I have no idea.”

As for when he expected the series to come back online, August was Ogier’s best guess at a time when he could be back behind the wheel of the Yaris WRC he used to win last month’s shortened Rally México.

Ogier said: “I don’t think we will be able to restart before Finland in August and that’s the most optimistic scenario.”

Ogier leads the championship by eight points from his Toyota team-mate Elfyn Evans.