Rally Liepāja has been re-scheduled to a mid-August date, while the 77th running of Rally Poland has been put back to 2021 when the event celebrates its 100th anniversary.
Using high-speed stages around the cities of Liepāja and Talsi, Rally Liepāja will take place from 14-16 August** as the second round of the 2020 FIA European Rally Championship season.
Although extensive efforts were made to reschedule Rally Poland after its original date of 26-28 June was no longer achievable due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, it was not possible to secure a workable slot on the calendar.
While the event won’t run in 2020, discussions are already underway between organiser PZM (Polish Automobile and Motorcycle Federation) and ERC promoter Eurosport Events to finalise a date on the provisional calendar for 2021, which marks the rally’s centenary year.
Jean-Baptiste Ley, the ERC Co-ordinator, said: “We are very pleased we have found a calendar solution for Rally Liepāja and we thank all those who have made this possible, particularly the FIA. Naturally we are disappointed the ERC won’t be visiting Poland this year, particularly given all the hard work and planning that has been undertaken and the warm welcome we always receive. However, we are already looking ahead to the 77th Rally Poland taking place in 2021 and to joining PZM in celebrating the 100-year milestone, which is a tremendous achievement.
“Our road map since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis has been to keep as much as possible all rallies included on the original calendar. Clearly this remains challenging given the ever-changing situation and the constant need to respect government restrictions. The health and safety of all remains the absolute priority and will never be compromised, after all.
“In the meantime, the thoughts of the ERC family remain with those whose loved ones have passed or have fallen ill as a result of COVID-19. Many jobs have been lost and people are in very challenging situations so it is vitally important that all official advice is followed.”
Raimonds Strokšs, Director of RA Events, Rally Liepāja promoter, said: “These are very changing times we are living right now. A lot of news regarding the world-wide pandemic caused by the COVID-19 virus and how countries are responding to control the spread of it, is resulting in rapidly changing circumstances and government sanctions. We as organisers are left in the middle of it – trying to ensure public health, while also finding a way to host a major sports event. As stated before – we are not here to put rally ahead of health and safety of our competitors, spectators, and personnel; thus, together with our partners Eurosport Events, FIA, Government of Latvia, rally cities Liepāja and Talsi, a déjà vu decision has been made to once again reschedule the running of Rally Liepāja to August. It might be just a couple of weeks later, but as there are no long-term decisions, we will try each and every option that is available to host Rally Liepāja in 2020. I would pinpoint that all the parties are working hard to make sure a great Rally Liepāja takes place in Latvia. We will continue our work, consult the experts, and hopefully the situation will normalise and we can all return to on-site rallying. But while we wait that, please follow the guidelines put forth by your local authorities, as that will speed-up the recovery process. Stay safe.”
Michał Sikora, President, PZM, said: “Rally Poland is every year one of the most important, not only motorsport, events on the calendar in our country. Preparations for such a large international competition last almost the whole year, with the rally attracting crowds of fans from Poland and abroad. The rally is an unenclosed event of a mass nature and it is not possible to carry it out when it is difficult to predict when the existing restrictions will be lifted. There is no alternative for safety of competitors and spectators and no compromise in this area. After numerous consultations with our partners, we took the only reasonable decision to postpone the 77th Rally Poland to next year. We have already declared our will to run our rally as a round of the next year’s European championship. Mikołajki and the picturesque Masurian Lake District will stay as the venue of the event, which will be the setting of the centenary of our classic rally.”
Poland will not be replaced on the FIA ERC1 Junior and FIA ERC3 Junior schedules, which will now comprise five rounds with competitors counting their best four scores. This will enable them to focus their expenditure on a reduced roster of rallies.
**Date subject to FIA validation