As one of the coronavirus alleviation measures at the first ever World Rally Championship (WRC) round to be held in Estonia, WRC Rally Estonia (September 4-6), spectators will not be allowed in the service park area.
The International Automobile Federation (FIA) has decided to restrict access in many areas of rally rounds usually open to the public.
Rally Estonia head organizer Urmo Aava is calling on people to maintain an understanding attitude. "Unfortunately we can see coronavirus news becoming more and more anxious by the day in the world and Estonia."
Aava continued: "Since we have stated clearly from the beginning that the priority of this year's Rally Estonia is safety, coronavirus alleviation, stopping the spread and restrictions could come at the last minute before the rally. We must accept that inevitability.
"We hope that rally fans understand the situation, where unfortunately all sports and culture events are suffering."
Since the service area was open for some rally passes, the owners of said passes have the option of asking for a proportional refund. The organizers have asked for rally pass owners to fill a refund form available here (link in Estonian).
First ever WRC round to be held in Estonia
WRC Rally Estonia will be held on September 4-6, in South Estonia. This will mark the return of the currently suspended WRC season, and will make Estonia the 33rd country to host a WRC round since the series 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.
A round of the Junior WRC season will also be held during that time, as the series follows the schedule of the full WRC. 26-year old Estonian Ken Torn currently holds third place in the season so far, in that series, with 15 points, chasing second place Latvian Martins Sesks (19 points) and Swedish Tom Kristensson (28 points).
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 and Rally d'Italia on October 29-November 1. The Ypres Rally Belgium was added recently, set to take place on November 19-22.
According to the International Automobile Federation (FIA), seven rounds of the season have to be completed to decide the title. Until the COVID-19 pandemic, three rounds were completed, which has led the association to look into alternative options.
France's Sebastien Ogier (Toyota) currently leads the series. Ott Tänak of Estonia (Hyundai) is reigning drivers' champion. Tänak won last year's series with Toyota.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste