The World Rally Championship is exploring further events in Europe to boost the number of rounds on its 2020 schedule, following the cancellation of five events and further uncertainty.
Wales Rally GB is the latest victim of the coronavirus, whilst Rally New Zealand, Portugal, Finland and Kenya have also been dropped and two further events – Argentina and Italy – look unlikely.
The WRC are keen to ensure at least four further events happen in 2020 in addition to Rallye Monte Carlo, Sweden and Mexico, which took place prior to the global cancellation of sporting events.
Turkey, Germany and Japan are likely to form three of those four with Italy still a possibility, however WRC boss Oliver Ciesla says other possibilities are being explored within Europe to meet or exceed that target.
“We are looking at all possible options,” he told Swedish broadcaster SVT. “We’ll see which are the available weekends and how much time do we need to move from one location to another.
“The logistics are quite a limiting factor in our championship and the consequence of that is we are looking for alternatives in Europe.
“And another aspect that we – but particularly the FIA, which kindly shows flexibility with the format at this time – need to make sure of is the safety standards are at the world championship levels.
“Safety remains a high target and this limits the options quite a bit. If you take away the logistics aspect to get to a point where it’s maybe better in Europe to be on the mainland than an island, this narrows the opportunity down to four or five events.
“These can be events [that] gathered experience from being part of the European championship now and in the past or events that have already been in contact with us and we were looking to observe them as candidate rallies.
“There are already quite a number of events that we have already identified and we are already in talks with all of them to see as quickly as possible what is possible.”
Amongst them are believed to be Cyprus and Estonia, though more details are expected to be announced next week following the World Motor Sport Council meeting.