Update: Ypres Rally cancelled, only Monza Rally left in 2020 WRC season
Updated Monday 2nd November 16:26. The penultimate round of the World Rally Championship, Rally Ypres in Belgium, has been cancelled after the number of coronavirus cases in Belgium continued to rise. The event had been due to take place over 19th-22nd November.
Rally Ypres 2020 was to be the first time that Belgium had hosted a WRC event, but direction from regional government to lockdown parts of the country have meant that the event was no longer able to take place.
“We have always fully supported Renties Ypres Rally Belgium, but this time we can’t let the rally go on,” said Emmily Talpe, Mayor of the City of Ypres. “We took this decision in close consultation with Governor of West Flanders, Carl Decaluwé, and the mayors of the other municipalities.”
There is now set to be just one more rally in 2020, at Monza in December, although escalating numbers of cases in Italy could see that change. Elfyn Evans leads the championship after the last round on the Italian island of Sardinia.
2020 WRC calendar
Update: Monza joins WRC 2020 calendar
Updated 17:50 Friday 9th October 2020. The WRC announced today (9th October) that one more round will be added to the calendar, as well as finalising the 2020 World Rally Championship season at eight rounds, with addition of a second Italian round at Monza.
The Monza Rally Show has become a staple of the rallying calendar in Italy attracting stars from around the world of motorsport – including current WRC stars – and has been won by MotoGP legend Valentino Rossi seven times. The event will be expanded to bring the WRC in, taking the championship’s short-form rules, allowing a WRC event to be completed in just 220km.
The three-day event, on 4th-6th December, will close the championship – which is currently led by Welshman Elfyn Evans. With the majority of the first and last days held at the circuit, the middle day will see the cars head out onto closed roads around the Lombardy regiion. WRC Promoter managing director Jona Siebel said: "As the final round of the championship, there's a strong chance both the drivers' and manufacturers' WRC titles could go right down to the wire on Monza's roads.
"The WRC prides itself on rewarding rallying's best all-round driver across multiple terrains and varied conditions. This type of rally is rare in our championship but will provide a thrilling finale to an unpredictable year."
The announcement of Monza as the final round of the season confirms that a suggested rally in Croatia will now not join the WRC lineup for 2020.
Update: Rally Germany cancelled, Italy moves
Updated 1:50pm Thursday 27th August 2020. The Italian date on the rescheduled World Rally Championship (WRC) calendar has been moved to avoid a clash with the recently announced F1 race at Imola. The new F1 race, called the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, was scheduled to run on the same weekend as the rally, on the Italian island of Sardinia.
As a result the Italian test will now run three weeks earlier, on 8th-11th October, not just allowing the rally to avoid the clash, but for better light and potentially warmer conditions.
The cancellation of the German round means there are now seven rounds in the 2020 WRC season. It is set to get back underway following a near six-month pause at the first ever Rally Estonia on 4th September.
Update: Ypres confirmed, Rally Japan cancelled
Updated 11:57am 19th August 2020. As had been widely expected the long-standing Belgian Rally Ypres has been added to the WRC calendar, the first time Belgium has ever hosted a WRC event. It replaces the Rally Japan, which had been due to return to the calendar for the first time in ten years in November. The Japanese round has now been called off due to border restrictions imposed by the Japanese government in an attempt to contain a potential second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
The Ypres event had been expected to join the calendar ever since the revised timetable was announced last month. At the end of July it was announced that the Turkish round had been moved forward a week in order to accommodate the potential Ypres event, but the cancellation of the Japanese round has meant Ypres will now take place in November, rather than the expected October.
Ypres may be new to the WRC calendar, but the event has been run since 1965, and is established as one of Europe’s biggest and most popular tarmac rallies, featuring consistently on both Intercontinental Rally Championship and European Rally Championship calendars. It has been won by drivers including current rally star Thierry Neuville and his 2018 team-mate Craig Breen. The rally will feature 300km of special stages, including a closing power stage taking place at the iconic Spa-Francorchamps circuit. Confirmation of another round in Croatia is expected at some point.
Update: Rally Turkey moves, Belgium expected to join
Updated 19th July 2020. Slated for 25th-27th September on the first version of the new calendar, the Rally Turkey will now take place on 18th-20th September, with the move paving the way for the Belgian Rally Ypres to join the calendar as an extra round. Ypres is set to take place on 2nd-4th October.
WRC Promotor managing director Jona Siebel said: “The date switch provides us with options if we wish to introduce further events to the 2020 calendar and we’re extremely grateful to [the organisers] for its flexibility in what are challenging times for sport across the world.
”While the announcement did not confirm the addition of Rally Ypres yet, a previous announcement had confirmed that the WRC were in talks with the Belgian tarmac test, as well as the organisers of another potential extra event in on an as-yet un-announced date in Croatia.
Where will the WRC rally in 2020?
After the visit to Estonia the rallying circus will then move on to Turkey on 18th-20th September, before completing the season with rounds in Germany, Italy, Belgium and a final round in Japan in November.
Will the WRC running order change?
Updated 12:15 Wednesday 15th July 2020. Yes, as the whole of the new Rally Estonia will take place in just two days, it means that a whopping 70 per cent of the action will take place on Saturday. As the first day of every WRC rally is normally run in championship order, that would leave championship leader Sébastien Ogier and second placed team-mate Elfyn Evans at a disadvantage, as they would have to sweep the loose gravel off the stages for most of the rally. With that in mind the WRC has changed the running order for the first day, with only the first loop of running in championship order. From the second loop the WRC cars will revert to the normal order that the WRC runs from day two – with the WRC runners running in reversed order.
Could any new rallies join the 2020 WRC calendar?
With the COVID-19 pandemic very much still affecting the world, changes to the calendar are inevitable. A Rally in the Belgian town of Ypres has, as was predicted, now been added to the calendar, and WRC bosses have confirmed there is the potential option for a new rally in Croatia to join the calendar.
When was the last WRC rally?
The new calendar will see top level rallying return to the world for the first time since Rally Mexico in March. A rally that had to modify its timetable to make sure the majority European-based teams could fly back via the US before the American government banned all travel to Europe due to the pandemic. That rally was won by six-time champion Sébastien Ogier in his Toyota.
Who is leading the 2020 WRC?
As it stands, after three rounds, Ogier tops the standings with 62 points, just eight clear of team-mate, Welshman Elfyn Evans, who won the second round of the season – a truncated blast through the unusually dry Swedish forests. Thierry Neuville, who won the first round of the season, sits in third after retiring in Mexico, while newcomer Kalle Rovenpera is in fourth, just ahead of reigning champion Ott Tänak, who crashed out of the first round in Monte Carlo in spectacular fashion.
Which WRC Rallies have been cancelled?
Sadly, despite the return to the stages and the addition of new rounds, six of the original eleven rounds have been completely cancelled. WRC regulars Argentina, Portugal, Finland and Great Britain have called off their rounds, as well as the Safari and New Zealand rounds, which were both due to make a much wanted return to the championship after long absences.
Will WRC2 and WRC3 take part?
The WRC have said that both WRC2 and WRC3 will be eligible to take part in the restarted season, but it remains to be seen with the financial crisis caused by COVID-19 how many will still be in a position to take part come September. With many WRC2 and 3 efforts funded by the drivers, the worry is that the competitors and their sponsors will be less willing to part with their cash now.
Will there be any changes to the rallies due to COVID-19?
Yes. Rally Estonia might be new, but it is already running to an altered schedule, with just two legs rather than the usual three, based out of Tartu in the east of the country. Rally Italia on the island of Sardinia, has moved from early summer to autumn, meaning that crews will now face completely different conditions to normal
Speaking of the changes WRC Promotor managing director Oliver Ciesla said that the restart in September would allow teams and organisers sufficient lead time to prepare. He added: “WRC Promoter has worked tirelessly with the FIA, our competitors, teams and potential rallies, in exceptional circumstances, to revise the calendar. Today’s news allows the WRC to restart at an appropriate time and ensure a season worthy of world championship status.
“Fans demonstrate huge passion for WRC in both Estonia and Italy. The expectation there, and across the sport in general, will build rapidly from now ahead of September’s championship restart.”