The serious situation facing Catalunya after a controversial ruling was dictated by the high court against several pro-independence politicians, could result in the Rally of Spain 2019 being cancelled.
The thirteenth appointment in the World Rally Championship (WRC) calendar should in theory take place next week from the 24th to the 27th of October in the Catalan town surroundings of Salou (Tarragona).
Given the current situation, however, the celebration of the race remains in the air. Currently, a significant number of national law enforcement agents, as well as almost all of the available local police are deployed in that region, in an attempt to suffocate the daily protests which are taking place on the Catalan public road network. The presence of the security forces, however, is also essential to guarantee the safety of the aforementioned motorsport event.
In the face of the turmoil, the organizers of the Rally of Spain 2019; the Royal Automobile Club of Catalonia (RACC), as well as the International Automobile Federation FIA, remain alert and worried. So much so that the possibility of postponing the event has been on the table. That possibility, however, has now been discarded as there is not enough time to re-organise the whole event.
The Spanish rally and the following and final event of the championships, the Rally of Australia (November 14th-17th), are to take place just three weeks apart, leaving no time to delay the Spanish event. Transfer all of the equipment and entourage to the Australian nation involves a complicated and lengthy logistic operation for the teams.
The Royal Automobile Club of Catalonia is at the time of writing exploring two different ways to save the race. On the one hand, they could leave the safety of the event fully in the hands of the security forces, so that these would have to guarantee that it takes place without incidents. On the other hand, they would try and persuade protest organisers to allow the competition to go on undisturbed.
In the midst of such a delicate situation, the official presentation of the event is due to take place this Thursday at the headquarters of the Higher Sports Council in Madrid. It won’t be until after this presentation that some light might be shone as to what are the plans for the competition in Salou.
In any case, and even if the rally is given the go-ahead for Thursday the 24th of October, it will be very hard to guarantee its normal development given the current level of instability of the Catalan region. If, on the contrary, organisers finally opt for suspending the Spanish Rally 2019, the international image of Spain in the motorsport world could result seriously damaged.
The fight for the title is now down to Tänak and Neuville
From a purely sporting point of view, the hypothetical cancellation of the Spanish event would be a blow to the present championship, both of which driver and constructor titles are still at stake.
Toyota leader Ott Tänak, currently commands the individual standings. After his triumph in Great Britain, the Estonian has 228 points, 28 more than the defending champion Sébastien Ogier (Citroën), and 41 more than Thierry Neuville (Hyundai), third.
Considering that the WRC point system awards 25 points per victory, 18 for a second position and 15 for a third, with an extra 5 points up for grabs for the winner of the final leg of each race (Power Stage), the driver from Kärla would almost have the title in his pocket if the Rally os Spain 2019 is cancelled. As for the constructors’ title, Hyundai leads the table with just 8 points more than Toyota.
Images of Rally of Spain 2019: WRC.com