Unfortunately, only two days after reporting at this very space the cancellation threat that hung over the Ypres Rally, the dim forecast has become a reality. The Belgian round, which was scheduled to debut at the WRC, from the 19 to the 22 of November, has been cancelled due to the relentless spread of the coronavirus pandemic in the country. The Belgian debut as a WRC venue will therefore have to wait to a more favourable occasion.
Behind the harsh resolution lies the very serious health issues that the Central European nation is currently being faced with as a result of the insidious pandemic. Belgium is one of the worse affected countries in the Old Continent.
The announcement, made by race organises, Superstage Club, has followed instructions from the regional government. The increase in the rate of infections has put the health sector under serious pressure. As a result, both regional and national authorities have been forced to impose even more severe social restrictions.
“We have always fully supported Renties Ypres Rally Belgium, but this time we can’t let the rally go on. We took this decision in close consultation with Governor of West Flanders, Carl Decaluwé, and the mayors of the other municipalities.” – said Emmily Talpe, Mayor of the City of Ypres-.
Jan Huyghe, a member of Club Superstage, has supported the authorities’ decision as he spoke in the name of race organisers:
“At the moment, the health of the population, of the staff in the care sector, of our employees and volunteers, of the participants and of all rally fans comes first”.
“We have followed up the health crisis in close consultation with the local authorities. Unfortunately, the figures continued to rise dramatically. The Ypres Rally has been at the forefront of safety in Europe for years. This time, health is also on the rise.”
In the face of a worldwide pandemic, sporting issues seem unimportant by comparison, but as it is our job, we must continue reporting on the fate of the 2020 WRC title, which remains very much in the air.
The championship was, in theory, due to end at the Monza Rally (4-6 December). This race was also a last-minute addition to the calendar following the numerous cancellations of other WCR events.
At this early stage after the announcement, we don’t know if WRC organisers will attempt to add another race to the calendar, a very complex move given the situation. There is very little time to arrange a new venue and all the preparations that come with it.
The organization of this type of sporting event involves a large logistical operation, both on the side of the host region as well as for the participating teams.
Images of Ypres Rally. WRC.COM