The Ypres Rally organizing team is working with Belgian authorities to monitor the coronavirus situation on a daily basis – but next month’s World Rally Championship qualifier currently remains on track.
The cancellation of Saturday’s South Belgium sparked speculation that the nation’s biggest motorsport event could be lost to COVID-19 as well.
A spokesperson from the November 20-22 event told DirtFish: “We are working in complete co-operation with government bodies right now – we are spending a lot, a lot of time on our COVID-19 precautions.
“It’s worth noting that our event remains four weeks away and, in the last days, we have seen the numbers of infections slowing down. The measures that have been taken – and are being taken – are working.
“The numbers and the situation we have in Flanders region are not as bad as other areas of the country and this is the main place where the rally is based. Like I say, our medical officer is working all the time on this and right now we feel it’s under control. It is changing and it can change more, but today we keep on with our preparations.
“What is really positive is the support we have had from many areas across the sport and from the local regions. This is the chance for the World Rally Championship coming to Belgium, it’s not something happening every day – we know we have to keep people safe and that’s what we’re working to do. We can control the fans and give them a chance to watch this rally while respecting the [social] distancing.
“I have been a little bit surprised at some of the negative comments from some fans – it’s like they don’t want this to happen!”
Part of the reason South Belgium was lost is the increased pressure on hospitals in the south of the country – this situation is different further north.
Despite those issues in the south, the organizers are still planning to include the Spa-Francorchamps circuit and roads from the Boucles de Spa Rally on the last day.
Ypres Rally organizers remain in close liaison with WRC Promoter regarding next month’s event.
A spokesperson from the promoter told DirtFish: “Health and safety is our number one priority.
“We’re working closely with event organizers of future WRC rounds, along with the national authorities and governments of their countries, to provide timely access in a safe and responsible way for competitors, teams, officials, suppliers and media.
“We continue to monitor what is a constantly evolving COVID-19 situation in all countries, whilst being committed to our duty of care to protect both the WRC family and the wider community.”
Hemicuda Rally, based only 15 miles north of Ypres, was set to be used as a warm-up event by both Toyota and Hyundai this Sunday but was canceled on Friday afternoon, as new limitations on sporting events were put in place by the Belgian government on Friday morning.
Spectators have been banned from attending professional sports events until November 19, the day before Ypres Rally is set to begin, and all amateur sports have been banned from taking place until the same date.