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Rally GB axe shatters hopes of concluding British series

 

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Josh McErlean

Josh McErlean

Josh McErlean

The cancellation of Wales Rally GB has brought to an end any hopes the British Championship could still be completed this year and may well spell the end of the World Championship too.

Even though Rally GB was not scheduled to take place until October, the decision to call it off was taken following Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford making it clear that hotels wouldn't be opening any time soon and sporting events remained "right at the very end of the spectrum, a long way off" in the fight against Covid-19.

His message was: "Come to Wales. Later."

After the cancellation of the West Cork, Clacton and Ulster rallies, the organisers of the British Championship had been pinning their hopes on Rally GB taking place with plans to split it into two rounds of the series.

Added to the Cambrian Rally, the only round to have taken place so far, plus the Ypres Rally in Belgium and the Galloway Hills Rally in Scotland - which have yet to get the go-ahead - this would have made up a five-round series, the minimum to constitute a Championship.

A disappointed BRC manager Iain Campbell said: "The team behind the British Championship have worked tirelessly with the organisers of the Ypres Rally, Galloway Hills Rally and Rally GB to conclude the 2020 BRC season. Unfortunately, now Rally GB is not going ahead, it is not possible to continue with sufficient events to have a full and meaningful Championship."

The cancellation comes as a blow to a number of Ulster drivers including Billy Coleman Award winner Josh McErlean, the reigning British Junior champion from Kilrea who had lined up a full assault on the main Championship in an R5 Hyundai with the backing of the Motorsport Ireland Academy.

The loss of Rally GB leaves the World Championship in serious doubt too.

Three rounds took place in the early part of the year but just Rally Turkey, Rally Germany and Rally Japan remain in their regular calendar slots for this season. Rally Italy - originally planned for last week - and Rally Argentina are listed as postponed.

Rally Italy, on the island of Sardinia, could go ahead in September now that domestic Italian rallies are set to restart but the possibility of WRC teams travelling across the world to Argentina is seen as remote.

The WRC promoters have already said seven is the minimum number of rallies needed for a viable Championship.

Belfast Telegraph