Coronavirus: Autumn's Wales Rally GB cancelled due to pandemic

Elfyn Evans at the Wales Rally GB
Welsh driver Elfyn Evans won the Wales Rally GB in 2017

This year's Wales Rally GB has been cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The penultimate event of the 2020 World Rally Championship (WRC) was due to run from 29 October to 1 November.

Organisers say the decision was made in conjunction with Welsh government due to ongoing uncertainties surrounding travel and mass gatherings.

The Wales Rally GB typically attracts around 100,000 spectators to mid and north Wales.

There have been no rounds of the WRC since the Rally Mexico was cut short in mid-March with races in Argentina, Portugal, Italy, Finland and New Zealand all cancelled or postponed as a direct result of the pandemic.

The next scheduled round of the WRC is now Rally Turkey, starting on September 24, but Wales Rally GB organisers said they had no choice but to cancel their event for the safety of all involved.

"This is not a decision that we have taken lightly," explained Motorsport UK chairman David Richards.

"But in close consultation with our chief funding partner, the Welsh government, it is sadly one we are obliged to make in light of the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic.

"This is not the appropriate time for us to be planning for and promoting an event that brings tens of thousands of visitors, many from outside the country, into rural Welsh communities.

"As the governing body of UK motorsport, our overriding responsibility and absolute priority is always the safety of all involved whether they be competitors, officials, spectators or the many thousands of volunteers who share our passion for this sport, and we thank them all for their ongoing support and enthusiasm in these difficult times.

"While significant progress is being made to combat the virus, there remains considerable uncertainty regarding mass gatherings, social distancing and travel restrictions, plus the possibility of a resurgence of viral transmission later in the year.

"We have been closely monitoring the guidance issued by government and it is becoming increasingly clear that it is impossible to make plans with any certainty for such major events in the autumn. We therefore have to accept, with an incredibly heavy heart, that cancelling this year's event is the only responsible and prudent option.

"We will instead start focusing our attentions on creating an even bigger and better world-class showcase for 2021."

First run in 1932, Rally GB is one of just two rounds to have been a permanent fixture in the annual FIA World Rally Championship since the series' inauguration back in 1973.

The Wales Rally GB annually generates in excess of £9m of economic benefit for the region and in recent years has raised more than £250,000 for local charities and good causes.

Top Stories

Elsewhere on the BBC