On Wednesday, the team behind Rally Estonia said that they have been made an offer to host a round of the World Rally Championships (WRC) in Estonia. Prime Minister Jüri Ratas said the government is ready to allocate additional funds from the state budget to support the potential WRC rally.
The director of Rally Estonia, Urmo Aava, said in a joint press release with the Estonian Autosport Union (EAL): "We have built our team and event with support from the government and private sector for ten years. In 2014, we were awarded as the best round of the International Automobile Federation (FIA) European Rally Championships and that opened doors and introduced Estonia and Rally Estonia to the world. After three years in the European Championships, it was clear that the team was aiming for the absolute top and wanted to bring a WRC round to Estonia."
Aava added: "I can confirm that we have been made an offer by the promoter of WRC to host a round of the 2020 WRC season in Estonia. We have submitted many applications to many institutions and are expecting a response in the coming days. Then we can start discussions with the FIA and WRC. The goal is to get the best conditions and coverage possible for Estonia and Estonian autosports."
On Thursday, at a government press conference, prime minister Jüri Ratas said that the government is ready to allocate additional support from the state budget.
Ratas said: "We discussed the culture minister's [Tõnis Lukas] proposal regarding the WRC round. The government decided to support the proposal that Estonia could host a WRC round. It has been a lot of work for the organizers of promotional events. Moreover, the reigning world champion is Ott Tänak."
Ratas said that the government is prepared to allocate additional funds to support the event: "The organizers have serious meetings at an international level in the next weeks or days. The Estonian government has clearly stated - if it's possible to bring the rally to Estonia, then we support it and will of course make the necessary allocation from our reserves. Currently, €1 million is set in the budget for a promotional rally. Clearly, if there will be a WRC round in Estonia, it will cost more than that. The government is prepared to contribute more than that."
The prime minister added: "It is important to us that the Estonian autosports community would settle their differences and be a united team and to me, it looks like that has been accomplished. The organizers have the chance now to show Estonia's readiness to host the rally."
In February, the EAL increased the organization fee of rally events in Estonia to €100,000 which the organizers behind Rally Estonia were not willing to pay. This led to the popular event being cancelled for this year.
Janis Kaal, CEO of the EAL, said on Wednesday: "The union and organizers have agreed in principle. Everything is in place, it is no longer a cause of conflict."
He added: "We will certainly assist with communication with the FIA. The rest of the details have to be put in place during the extremely busy period of work. I emphasize that it is not yet confirmed, if we'll get the WRC round.
Another high profile rally event is set to take place in Estonia in August, Rally DirtFish. Drivers of Hyundai Motorsport, reigning world champion Ott Tänak and Thierry Neuville have already announced of their participation. Initially, Rally DirtFish was associated as a potential round of the WRC season, but organizers of the event announced on Monday that those speculations were not true.
WRC has already canceled Rally de Portugal, Rally Kenya, Rally Finland, Rally New Zealand. Additionally, Rally of Argentina and Rally d'Italia have been postponed, leaving only the Turkish, German, Welsh, and Japanese rounds remaining on the schedule.
According to the FIA, seven rounds of the season have to be completed to give out the title. Until the COVID-19 pandemic, three rounds were completed, which has led the association to look into alternative options.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste