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Safari Rally’s fate hangs in a balance as two rounds now off

Thursday March 26 2020

Tavjeer Rai, navigated by Gavin Laurence, tackles a wet section in Kajiado in a Volkswagen Polo during the Guru Nanak Rally last month. Rai finished second in the Nyahururu Rally on March 8, 2020. PHOTO | ANWAR SIDI |

Tavjeer Rai, navigated by Gavin Laurence, tackles a wet section in Kajiado in a Volkswagen Polo during the Guru Nanak Rally last month. Rai finished second in the Nyahururu Rally on March 8, 2020. PHOTO | ANWAR SIDI |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

PETER NJENGA
By PETER NJENGA
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The World Rally Championship (WRC) will not resume until possibly in July during the Kenyan Safari Rally round after authorities cancelled the next two rounds in Portugal (21-24 May) and Italy (4-7 June) due to the coronavirus pandemic, the International Automobile Federation (FIA) announced Wednesday.

“All parties will work to identify potential alternative dates for the postponed rallies later in the season should the COVID-19 situation improve, taking into consideration championship logistics, the ability of competitors to travel again and the ability of the country in question to prepare and host the WRC at such a time,” said WRC Promoter managing director Oliver Ciesla in a statement. The first three rallies of the season — in Monte Carlo, Sweden and Mexico — were run, though Sweden was curtailed by lack of snow and Mexico ended a day early because of the pandemic.

The Argentina rally, scheduled for 23-26 April, had already been postponed. The WRC and the FIA added they “continue to closely monitor the situation in affected countries due to host future rounds, as well as the home countries of WRC teams and all competitors.”

The FIA said the championship does not have to include a minimum number of rounds. The next surviving round on the calendar is now Kenya’s Safari Rally from July 16-19.

Italy, which is under lockdown, and Portugal, which is in a state of emergency, requested postponement of their events as contingency measures following consultation with the FIA.

Updated WRC calendar after the postponements of Portuguese and Italian rallies:

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- Monte-Carlo (23-26 January) run

- Sweden (13-16 February) run

- Mexico (12-15 March) run but ended a day early

- Argentina (23-26 April) postponed

- Portugal (21-24 May) postponed

- Italy (4-7 June) postponed

- Kenya (16-19 July)

- Finland (6-9 August)

- New Zealand (3-6 September)

- Turkey (24-27 September)

- Germany (15-18 October)

- Great Britain (29 October - 1 November)

- Japan (19-22 November)

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