Rally New Zealand fears being "cast into the wilderness"

Organisers of Rally New Zealand fear it could be “cast into the wilderness” after the event failed to appear on the draft calendar for next year’s World Rally Championship.

Rally New Zealand fears being "cast into the wilderness"

Last Friday, the World Motor Sport Council named the nine locations that have contracts to stage a round of the series in 2021, including Monte Carlo, Italy, Kenya, Finland, Spain and Japan.

Australia was also welcomed back to the fold after the Coffs Harbour-based event stepped aside in 2020.

A number of high-profile names were absent, however, including Wales Rally GB and New Zealand.

They will go up against Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Germany, Turkey and France for the likely two remaining spaces on the 2021 schedule – a number that teams and the WRC Promoter are happy to compromise on given how they have been affected financially because of the continuing coronavirus pandemic.

“There is no doubt that some event organisers will be very disappointed when the final calendar is announced,” Rally New Zealand’s CEO Michael Goldstein told Motorsport.com.

“We’ve worked with the WRC Promoter for a long time to bring Rally New Zealand back to the World Championship; everyone knows that we have had to make up for lost time in preparing for 2020.  

“Our view is that sport is about more than dollars and it would be a callous decision from the FIA and the WRC Promoter to again cast Rally New Zealand into the wilderness for another three to five years.

“We are hopeful – but not optimistic – the WRC Promoter and the FIA will look to their hearts in making the final decisions on the 2021 calendar.”

Asked how confident he was of WRC visiting the Southern Hemisphere on two occasions next year, Goldstein said: “At this stage we have no indication, positive or negative.

“What we do know is that New Zealand is COVID-19 free. It will be a safe country to visit and we’ll deliver a well-organised event that will showcase rallying positively to the world.

“There’s an ongoing quarantine risk for any international events in Australasia.

“This, combined with all the other scenarios around COVID-19, means a Trans-Tasman swing of events may be needed to complete a 2021 WRC calendar.”

With Rally New Zealand being cancelled for 2020 earlier this month because of COVID-19, “significant costs” have been incurred, with Goldstein saying there is no way to recoup any of this investment.

Much of the planning needed to bring the WRC back to the country for the first time since 2012 has been completed, including a new purpose-built powerstage named ‘Jack’s Ridge’.

Given how much money has been ploughed into the brand, Goldstein sounded a note of caution should the event be overlooked moving forward.

“This is more than a financial decision for Rally New Zealand and our partners,” he said.

“It is an emotional one and we hope that we can get to see the WRC back in New Zealand soon.

“If we are not included in the 2021 calendar then we’ll need to talk to our partners and determine whether Rally New Zealand should bid to host future World Rally Championship events.”

shares
comments
Motorsport UK "optimistic" Rally GB will get 2021 WRC date
Previous article

Motorsport UK "optimistic" Rally GB will get 2021 WRC date

Next article

WRC reveals revised 2020 calendar, adds Estonia

WRC reveals revised 2020 calendar, adds Estonia
Load comments
The former WRC star playing the unsung hero role for Rovanpera Prime

The former WRC star playing the unsung hero role for Rovanpera

Kalle Rovanpera’s 2022 World Rally Championship displays have been spectacular, with the Toyota driver benefitting from a secret weapon in his crew to win two of the opening three rallies. But while the former challenger to Sebastien Loeb won’t take credit for his fellow Finn's performances, a key bond has been formed which could prove key to Rovanpera’s title charge

WRC
Apr 29, 2022
How Rovanpera's Croatia turnaround sent a message to his WRC rivals Prime

How Rovanpera's Croatia turnaround sent a message to his WRC rivals

After a dominating Rally Croatia, a wrong tyre choice on the final day looked to have undone all Kalle Rovanpera's hard work and left him with a mountain to climb heading into the power stage. That he emerged the winner all the same has surely quelled any lingering doubts that the Finn is the man to beat in the 2022 WRC

WRC
Apr 25, 2022
How M-Sport's faith in Loubet led to a WRC reprieve after a dismal 2021 Prime

How M-Sport's faith in Loubet led to a WRC reprieve after a dismal 2021

It's fair to say 2021 was a year to forget for Pierre-Louis Loubet. A maiden full World Rally Championship season offered hope but soon turned into a nightmare that ended in hospital, after being hit by a car in a road traffic accident. Now handed a lifeline by M-Sport, the Frenchman is desperate to rebuild his career

WRC
Apr 20, 2022
Why WRC mechanics deserve more respect Prime

Why WRC mechanics deserve more respect

The drivers get the glare of attention, but it’s the mechanics who are key to the operation of any World Rally Championship car. Motorsport.com donned a set of overalls and joined M-Sport on a Belgian national rally event to get an inside look into the life of a rally mechanic.

WRC
Apr 17, 2022
The African McRae aiming to become a WRC pioneer Prime

The African McRae aiming to become a WRC pioneer

Taking his first step into the Junior World Rally Championship category, McRae Kimathi - named after 1995 world champion Colin - found himself in the unfamiliar climes of Sweden's snow and ice. Having impressed, Kimathi hopes to blaze a trail to the top level of WRC and help other African drivers to step onto the ladder

WRC
Mar 8, 2022
How Rovanpera grabbed the Rally Sweden spotlight Prime

How Rovanpera grabbed the Rally Sweden spotlight

After a blockbuster opening act to the new era of the World Rally Championship with the battle of the Sebastiens at Monte Carlo, Rally Sweden would be the first chance to assess the next superstar of rallying. While teething issues with the new hybrid power thwarted some of the cast, Kalle Rovanpera’s display gave him headline billing

WRC
Feb 28, 2022
The "painful" journey behind the WRC's generational tech innovation Prime

The "painful" journey behind the WRC's generational tech innovation

As the company selected to provide the hybrid kits for the 2022 World Rally Championship, the pressure was on Compact Dynamics at the Monte Carlo season opener. Needing to treat all three manufacturers equally, it wasn't a straightforward process, but its first big test was a resounding success that bodes well for the future.

WRC
Feb 25, 2022
The mentality shift key to Lappi’s shot at WRC redemption Prime

The mentality shift key to Lappi’s shot at WRC redemption

He appeared poised to become the World Rally Championship’s new bright young star five years ago, but Esapekka Lappi's fortunes since his 2017 breakthrough win offer a cautionary tale of how the tables can turn. Now having rebuilt his career, the Finn is determined to make the most of his second shot at the big time with Toyota.

WRC
Feb 23, 2022