Sebastian Ogier and team Toyota Gazoo racing were the Table leaders of the World Rally Championship WRC before the season was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic – but will Ogier and Toyota still be crowned 2020 WRC champions if the campaign cannot be completed?
The FIA has not released any official information on the outcome of the World Rally Championship title should the season be cancelled.
Seven events continue with their preparations to complete the season, although Matton expects more cancellations. The FIA continues to evaluate the idea of compressed events, with higher mileage per stage to take on when the WRC returns this year. But the big question remains who knows when everything will return to normalcy?
In the midst of these uncertainties, Yves Matton the FIA rally director gave an interview to the French media AutoHebdo, in which he revealed possible deadlines for the 2020 WRC season.
The championship should restart between summer and September, but today I cannot say what the first test will be,” said the FIA Rally commission Matton. When asked about the possibility of extending the season until December, Matton said: “It is possible, since the FIA annual award ceremony has been postponed for a week to add events. For now, no organizer has requested a date in early December, but in a few days, they could change their minds. “
“The biggest problem we have right now is that we depend on the decisions of governments, which come regularly, but which are always subject to new changes,” said the Director FIA Rally commission Yve matton
With no surprises, the director of the FIA Rally Commission again put the focus of doubts on non-European rallies, as they generate the greatest costs and problems logistically. This situation especially affects Kenya, Argentina, and New Zealand, three countries whose aspirations are far from recognizing a cancellation, despite the adverse context of the economic crisis. In teams, a consensus prevails not to travel outside Europe. Despite this, each event continues with its preparations.
“What is certain is that we will not do all the rallies that have been postponed and there will probably be other cancellations,” admitted Yves Matton. “There are several problems for non-European events and it is difficult to assign new spaces to them because of logistical reasons. In fact, we have an inflexible deadline for transporting ocean cargo. So even if some events can change their dates, they will not have that much freedom.”
“This type of rally is subject to infrastructure restrictions that are not available throughout the year or that must cope with weather conditions to carry out their events without problems,” explained the Belgian.
“Also, there is a financial and budgetary aspect that is linked to its partners, its sponsors and the areas or regions that help them. The Covid-19 crisis will entail expenses that can have a direct influence on the organization of certain events. This could cause the cancellation of some dates in 2020, to be able to return in 2021 ”.
With the exception of Portugal, (the only rally canceled at the moment) Matton assured that no other organizer has expressed to the FIA an inability to hold an event for financial reasons. “Something like this has not happened. Only, some have told us that it will be difficult or impossible to plan two rallies in 7 months, between 2020 and 2021. Even if everyone tries to find solutions, it is complex to know what the events of the second part of the season will be ”.
“We must take into account how the closure of borders evolves, the availability of flights and the existence in certain countries of quarantine measures. If you leave Germany, when you return there, you will have to spend two weeks of isolation. So this creates a set of factors that complicate things for the organizers, manufactures and teams ” , explained the director of the Rally Commission.
When asked how the calendar for the second half of the season could be reformulated, Matton replied: “The idea is to keep the dates of those organizers who have not yet postponed their events, while postponed rallies should be reinserted when possible. or if other competitions cannot guarantee their presence on the calendar ”. Yves Matton was asked about the minimum number of events stipulated to award the 2020 World Champion titles. “There is no minimum for the WRC events, the FIA rally boss argues that there must be at least seven rallies in the World Championship in order for the champion to be crowned.
– I don’t think the champion can be declared on the basis of three rallies. giving it with just three completed rallies would not have much sport value. We are preparing a rule change that will require at least seven races for the championship,, Matton said .