Australian Rally Championship 2020 cancelled by Motorsport Australia

Sharon Kelley 8 September 2020
Harry Bates, and Neal Bates

Current Australian Rally Champion Harry Bates and Neal Bates from Neal Bates Motorsport. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

The RSEA Safety Motorsport Australia Rally Championship 2020 has been cancelled by Motorsport Australia.

In a statement released on 4 September, the governing body of motorsport in Australia announced the cancellation due to the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Throughout this year, we’ve made a number of changes to our calendars to try and run events and Championships wherever possible,” said Motorsport Australia CEO Mr Eugene Arocca.

“Given the border closures in various states, along with the quarantine requirements should competitors have wanted to compete, unfortunately, it was just not feasible to hold this year’s RSEA Safety Motorsport Australia Rally Championship, even in a shortened two event format.


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“From a sporting point of view, it would be unfair to award a Championship, if there are a number of those unable to leave their state, or forced to quarantine for two weeks either at the event location or when they return home,” said Mr Arocca.

Current Australian champion, Canberra’s Harry Bates, said it was disappointing that he will be unable to defend his championship this year.

“It’s not exactly out of the blue, we’ve all been consulted, and we were all told prior to the announcement, and Motorsport Australia made sure we were all comfortable with it,” Harry said.

“We all came to the same conclusion, with state borders closed, it’s unfair to compete without all the states and territories competitors able to attend.

“We’ll just have to look forward to 2021,” said Harry, “and it’s a shame we can’t do what we’re supposed to be doing, but Toyota Gazoo Racing and Toyota have been really supportive the whole way through COVID-19.”

The Netier National Capital Rally will still take place on 27 to 29 November, and Motorsport Australia have introduced the RSEA Safety Motorsport Australia Rally Cup as a national level prize available for those able to take part in the race.

“We have got something to fight for,” said Harry, “and we’re happy to get out there and race for the RSEA Safety Motorsport Australia Rally Cup at the Netier National Capital Rally.”

Motorsport Australia Director of Motorsport and Commercial Operations Michael Smith said it was a difficult decision to call off the championship.

“We had discussions with all the event organisers, our competitor groups and our sponsors and in the end it was a really difficult decision to make,” he said.

“We were trying to give it every last shot to deliver something, but it’s near impossible with border closures in place.

“It’s not really practical to do what the fully professional levels of motorsport can, and put a bubble around the teams, drivers and officials, everyone in rallying has a day job,” he said.

“But we’re very, very confident in our COVID-19 Safety Plans, and we believe we can deliver a full race series next year.”


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