World Rally Championship to resume in Estonia in September
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The World Rally Championship (WRC), interrupted in March by the coronavirus pandemic, will resume in Estonia in September, the organisers and the International Automobile Federation (FIA) announced on Thursday.
"Today's restart announcement sends a clear signal that the 2020 WRC is back in business," said Oliver Cielsa, WRC Promoter's managing director, on the organisation's website. The championship will comprise at least eight rounds, including the three (Monte Carlo, Sweden and Mexico) raced before the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Estonia Rally will run September 4-6 and will be the first in the country. It will be followed by a race in Turkey (24-27 September) which like Germany (15-18 October) and Japan (19-22 November) will run on its original dates.
The Italian Rally on Sardinia, which should have taken place the beginning of June, has been rescheduled for October 29 to November 1. "Preparations for these rounds are now in full swing while paying the greatest attention to key planning recommendations for mass gatherings in the current COVID-19 context," said FIA rally director Yves Matton.
The WRC said it was in discussions for two additional races: an Ypres Rally in Belgium on October 2-4 and a race in Croatia on an undecided date.
The WRC also announced the Argentine rally, originally postponed in March, had been cancelled, joining Portugal, Kenya, Finland, New Zealand and Wales as legs which were on the original 2020 calendar but will not be run.
Estonia, home of reigning world champion Ott Tanak hosted a promotional event in 2019. But for its WRC debut, the event, held around Tartu in the east of the country, will be shortened, with only two stages on Saturday and Sunday. Frenchman Sebastien Ogier leads the drivers' standings and his Toyota team leads the manufacturers' standings.
Revised 2020 calendar:
January 23-26: Monte Carlo (Winner: Thierry Neuville)
February 13-16: Sweden (Winner: Elfyn Evans)
March 12-15: Mexico (Winner: Sebastien Ogier)
September 4-6: Estonia
September 24-27: Turkey
October 2-4: The Ypres Rally in Belgium, to be confirmed
October 15-18: Germany
October 29- November 1: Italy
November 19-22: Japan