Thank goodness it is the rally season

| Photographer Credit: Terry Marshall/Euan Cameron Photography

What are we to do? With so many motorsport cancellations and postponements, how will we get our ‘fix’?

It was going to be such a great weekend with the Australian F1 Grand Prix event including Supercars, TCR and S5000. Then overseas we had the first NTT IndyCar round taking place in St Petersburg Florida also featuring the debut of Hunter McElrea in the Indy Pro 2000 category.

Now that is all gone, with future events either cancelled, on hold or postponed. So where to from here? It is not like you can flick over to another sports channel on the tele as most of them have been cancelled as well.

Don’t expect the Australian Supercars to be here over ANZAC weekend at the end of April. It is hard to imagine that the ‘self-isolation’ required by all passengers coming to NZ will be only for a couple of weeks. Let’s work on a couple of months at least, as the Government has banned all cruise ships until the end of June.

The Supercars NZ round at Hampton Downs has so much going for it. If it doesn’t take place in 2020 there is a strong possibility that Pukekohe will host the 2021 event.

On saying that, Supercars seem to have gone to ground and not been assertive in their immediate decision making regarding the next couple of events. 3-5 April we have the Tyrepower Tasmania Super400 before heading to NZ for the ITM Auckland Super400.

So what of the immediate future for motorsport fans. We have two alternatives. One is to stay on the couch and crank up the X-Box or Play Station. But is that really motorsport (even though the FIA see that it is part of the ‘pathway’)? I did hear F1 driver Lando Norris admitting to the ‘Beyond the Grid’ podcast that he often has an all-niter playing video games.

Which brings us to the other alternative and that is rallying. It is the start of the rally season and over the weekend we had the Westland Rally won by Josh Marston/Andrew Graves in their Holden Barina AP4.

Our domestic rally scene is on an all-time high with big fields, a variety of cars and savouring the involvement of ex World Rally Championship driver Hayden Paddon.

The Westland Rally is the opening round of the Mainland Rally Series and is used as a shake-down for many national rally champ competitors and teams. We had five different marque fill the overall top five positions – Holden Barina (Josh Marston), Skoda Fabia (Job Quantok), Mazda Rx8 (Marcus van Klink), Ford Escort RS1800 (Graham Ferguson) and Subaru WRX (Sean Haggarty).

While we still await more information on the non-ticketed event restrictions the Government will impose, one would think that rallying has no reason for it to not go ahead, given that there are very few parts of a rally event involving large numbers of people.

In three weeks time the first round of the 2020 NZ Rally Championship takes place with Rally Otago. I can only see that the traditional Frday evening send-off from Dunedin’s Octagon may not take place due to the numbers of public that are expected to congregate. Actual numbers out on the rally itself spread over many Special Stages throughout the Otago countryside should be well under the Government restrictions. Just don’t expect Kris Meeke and other international drviers to turn up for the event.

See also: Otago Rally still on track

Benjamin Carrell

Benjamin Carrell is a freelance motorsport writer and currently edits He writes for a number of Kiwi drivers and motorsport clubs. That's when he's not working in his horticultural day-job or training for the next road or mtb cycle race!

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