WRC season to continue in Estonia in September, state to allocate funds
The organizers of Rally Estonia and WRC promoter GmbH confirmed on Thursday that the currently suspended World Rally Championship (WRC) season will continue in September with Rally Estonia. The government has allocated a total of €2.5 million to support the WRC round.
Rally Estonia will be held on September 4-6 in Southern Estonia. This will mark the return of the currently suspended WRC season and will make Estonia the 33rd country to host a WRC round after the series was started in 1973.
The round will span three days and will be held in traditional Rally Estonia regions in Tartu and Southern Estonia such as Kanepi, Kambja, Otepää and Elva.
The government has allocated an additional €1.5 million from reserves to go with the €980,000 budgeted for Rally Estonia.
Ratas said on June 18 that the government is prepared to allocate additional funds to support the event: "The organizers will 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."
Urmo Aava, chief organizer of Rally Estonia, said it is still difficult to predict how many spectators will be allowed to visit the event. As of July 1, 1,000 spectators are allowed to outdoor events. No end date for that restriction has been set yet.
Aava said: "We are acting as if there will be no restrictions in September but that is not how we are planning it. We must be prepared and able to host this event without spectators. We have many plans in parallel that we are working on and that is the same capability that we're speaking of.
"Organizers, the state, local organizers and others are cooperating and doing so at an accelerated pace so that we would be able to react and move from 15,000 [spectators] to zero, or the other way around, if we decide that 15,000 is unreasonable, we can give ourselves more freedom to move in that direction.
Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) said: "None of the restrictions are set for fun. All of it is in relation to the virus. We will discuss restrictions regarding this event again next week."
Finance minister Martin Helme (EKRE) said: "It was mentioned that there will be 230 km of routes. It's not as if all these spectators are bunched up, this can be solved flexibly and creatively. Allow spectators by day or by kilometers."
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.
WRC officials also presented an updated schedule for the rest of the WRC season. Rally Estonia will be followed by Rally Turkey on September 24-27, Rally of Germany on October 15-18, Rally d'Italia on October 29-November 1 and Rally Japan on November 19-22. According to the WRC, negotiations are still held with Belgian organizers.
According to the International Automobile Federation (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.
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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste