Portugal and Italy WRC rounds postponed

More events postponed due to coronavirus outbreak, meaning next WRC event is Safari Rally in July

Mikkelsen Hyundai Rally Italy 2019

The next two rounds of the World Rally Championship – Rally Portugal and Rally Italy – have been postponed.

Confirmation of the decision to bump Italy’s WRC round back to a date later in the season was received on Tuesday.

Sources in Portugal confirmed to DirtFish that the same news would be delivered by the organizers of the Matosinhos-based May event in the coming days, and this was confirmed later on Tuesday afternoon.

This means the next three rounds of the WRC have been spiked due to the coronavirus pandemic, with news of Rally Argentina’s postponement coming during the Rally México weekend earlier this month.

President of the Automobile Club d’Italia Angelo Sticchi Damiani said: “It is now evident that the situation of the pandemic unleashed by the Coronavirus, with its different development methods from country to country, requires a complete review of the calendar of the major international motor series, including the WRC.

“In this sense Automobile Club d’Italia as Rally Italia Sardegna organizer has made itself available with the FIA and with the WRC Promoter to study a possible new location [on the calendar] for the Italian event of the World Rally Championship.”

With Portugal’s postponement confirmed, Automobile Club Portugal president Carlos Barbosa said: “We wish to thank all our supporters and partners for their understanding and look forward to welcoming them in Matosinhos at a later stage this year.”

WRC Promoter managing director Oliver Ciesla said his team would be working on finding suitable dates for the postponed events.

“All parties,” said Ciesla, “will work to identify potential alternative dates for the postponed rallies later in the season should the COVID-19 situation improve, taking into consideration championship logistics, the ability of competitors to travel again and the ability of the country in question to prepare and host the WRC at such a time.”

The next scheduled WRC round after Italy is the Safari Rally (July 16-19), an event facing the challenge of an infestation of locusts as well as COVID-19.