Rally Estonia will not take place in 2020, organizers announced on Wednesday, citing organizational issues and a conflicting outlook with Estonia's motorsport governing body, according to Baltic News Service.
The race has been held in southern Estonia every July since 2010, and was a promotional rally event for the senior-tier FIA World Rally Championship (WRC).
"As director of Rally Estonia, I am convinced that if we don't have a supportive and cooperative sports association backing us, it's impossible for us to strive towards organizing a WRC stage in Estonia," Rally Estonia director Urmo Aava said (see gallery above).
"We are [therefore] compelled to cancel Rally Estonia 2020," he added, according to BNS.
Aava noted that official WRC teams took part in last year's event, including current reigning WRC champion and local hero Ott Tänak, and then-reigning champion Sebastien Ogier, with talk of the race entering the full WRC calendar in future.
"We take great pride in what we have achieved together, because after the success story of 2019, Estonia has begun to be reckoned with as a serious candidate for organizing a WRC stage," Aava said.
Aava also said he was mystified why the organizing body, the Estonian Autosport Union (EAL), had deprioritized bringing a WRC stage to Estonia.
According to Aava, the EAL board drew up a new price list making international competition registration fees for international competitions from €2,000 to €100,000 in January this year, just six months before the scheduled start of the rally in July, according to BNS.
"This makes for a price rise of almost 5,000 percent. Paying that level of a fee is not possible, both legally and budget-wise," Aava said.
Aava also recalled that the long-term goal in the agreement between the EAL and Rally Estonia was full WRC status.
"All the aforementioned sudden changes to priorities, strategy, and the price list from the EAL, unequivocally indicate that the EAL does not want to cooperate with the organizers of Rally Estonia. Rather, the impression is left by the opinions publicly expressed by the EAL, to the effect that the international success story of Rally Estonia is detrimental to Estonian motor sport," Aava continued.
Aava added that Rally Estonia officials had been holding negotiations with the EAL for almost three months, in the hope of a compromise being reached, but the association had stuck to its positions.
Editor: Andrew Whyte