This year’s Rally GB will be canceled according to senior DirtFish sources – and the decision could be taken within days.
Any existing hopes of running the Deeside-based event were undermined by Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford, who has made clear Wales will remain largely closed to tourists into the autumn.
Speaking to inews, Drakeford insisted sporting events were a long way down the list of priorities.
He said: “They are right at the very end of this spectrum, a long way off.”
One of the problems for the October 29-November 1 would be the lack of accommodation for teams, with Drakeford not intending to open hotels any time soon.
Drakeford said: “I have not given up on the idea that we may be able to rescue some limited parts of the tourism season, although we are not yet there in being able to make those decisions.
“The best hope is that we will be able to allow people to come back to visit Wales in accommodation that is entirely self-contained, where in effect you could be self-isolated if you needed to be, [so] if you were to fall ill you would not be not posing an additional risk to others.”
Another factor working against Wales Rally GB is its autumn date which, according to Drakeford, offers more COVID-friendly conditions.
He added: “The coronavirus crisis hit us just as the days were getting longer and just as the weather was getting better. The autumn will be the opposite, the days will be getting colder, shorter and damper and coronavirus likes the dark, the damp and the cold.
“We can’t possibly put ourselves in the position when we are running extra risks when the intrinsic risks of the virus may be more dangerous.”
Asked to put odds on this year’s Wales Rally GB running, Motorsport UK CEO Hugh Chambers told DirtFish: “I wouldn’t like to put odds on it at this stage. It’s a moving discussion going on at the moment and, in the next day or so, I think we’ll get a little bit more clarity on that.”
DirtFish’s sources said: “It’s a matter of when not if for GB now.”
The cancellation of Rally GB will leave just three events – Turkey, Germany and Japan – remaining in their current calendar positions. Rally Italy, originally scheduled for last week, could well move into Wales’s late-October date.
The FIA and WRC Promoter has made clear it needs seven rounds to constitute a 2020 World Rally Championship. With three events already completed, Turkey, Germany, Italy and Japan all need to run.
Rally Argentina also remains postponed, but the likelihood of a late-season trip to Villa Carlos Paz is understood to be looking increasingly unrealistic.