A message from Rally New Zealand 2020 CEO, Michael Goldstein:
With the recent cancellation of Rally New Zealand 2020 I wanted to take a moment to share an update with all of our fans.
Like you all, we’re gutted by the swift and devasting impact that covid-19 has had on Rally New Zealand.
I am conscious that for the last few months we have been selective with our communications to you. It has been necessary for us to work through the 2020 cancellation step by step alongside the WRC, the FIA and our stakeholders privately.
Throughout the cancellation process the entire Rally New Zealand team has shown great professionalism and dedication to the event. From the Directors (PJ and Paul Mallard), our advisory panel (Steve Horne, Sir Jim McLay and John Gordon), our staff and contractors, and the RNZ sporting committee we have had a pragmatic and passionate group of people helping the event.
The 2020 WRC event was set to be an awesome mix of stages North, South and East of the Auckland CBD. One of our goals with Rally New Zealand was to attract huge numbers of spectators and in creating venues like Mt Smart and Jack’s Ridge we had planned a series of ‘major events’ that collectively would result in one of New Zealand’s biggest sporting events.
Last week we finally shared Jack’s Ridge with the world. Andrew Hawkeswood is a unique guy and what he has done for rallying in NZ by building this stage is very special. Jack’s Ridge would have been the Power Stage venue for our WRC event, and it has everything going for it – a technical, challenging 6.2km stage, incredible hospitality, and spectator vantage points and only 20km from downtown Auckland. We hope that you get behind the City of Auckland Rally and Battle of Jack’s Ridge this November and come and see Jack’s Ridge for yourself.
Over the next couple of months, we will keep talking with the WRC and the FIA about Rally New Zealand featuring on the 2021 calendar.
It was a blow to not be included in the 9 events announced over the weekend.
We hope that the FIA and the WRC Promoter will acknowledge the massive investment that Rally New Zealand has made into this one-off event and give us the opportunity to ensure that this investment doesn’t go to waste.
As I see it, the FIA is a member’s organisation and during this time of huge upheaval they should be able to show leadership to support smaller ASNs like New Zealand. If they don’t then not only could there be lasting financial implication for the sport but there could be a generation of kiwi kids who don’t get to see a world championship event on our shores.
For me, my time as the CEO of Rally New Zealand 2020 Ltd will now come to an end but I’ll join the advisory panel and keep helping PJ and the team as we try and get back on track for 2021. Looking back to the first trip to Rally Australia 2015 this has been a long ride – but I’m conscious it has been much longer for others. It’s gut-wrenching for our sporting committee and I feel for our Clerk of the Course Willard Martin for whom this is certainly not work but a way of life.
PJ and the team will keep working on bringing the WRC back in NZ and I will support this however I can. They will also deliver a fantastic 2020 City of Auckland Rally and Battle of Jack’s Ridge and I urge you to all get involved and support those events and get a taste of what we wanted to bring you in 2020.
When I began this job, I wanted to collaborate with Australia to work together on a longer rotation. It is no secret that Rally New Zealand would like to share a hosting cycle with Australia whereby the championship comes to New Zealand every 4 or 5 years and this stance was supported by our partners. It is a shame that this collaboration has not yet eventuated. It is objectively in the best interests of rallying on both sides of the ditch to provide certainty for our partners, sponsors, broadcasters, and fans. Without collaboration we will keep lobbying against one another and I could see the event flip flopping both sides of the ditch at short notice over the coming years. If NZ doesn’t get the green light for 2021 then we’ll certainly be pushing the FIA World Motorsport Council for inclusion in 2022.
The WRC is in a delicate state at the moment. They are down to 3 teams in the championship and their budgets are stressed such that they seem set to regress the championship to a 10 or 11 round affair mostly based in Europe. The regulations make costs prohibitive to privateers and there are so many leading drivers who are watching with frustration from the sidelines: Paddon, Breen, Mikkelson, Latvala, Meeke, Ostberg etc.
On the other side of the coin the TV audience is growing and there is an oversupply of event organisers around the world.
The one thing that we can be assured of with the WRC is change. It is a complex web between the manufacturers, the regulations, Governments and sponsors all to be considered right now through the lens of covid-19. Who knows what things could look like in the coming years. What we do know is that New Zealand will be ready. We will be ready with our free-flowing roads, with our purpose-built power stage so close to Auckland, with our deep heritage and with an army of passionate fans. Thank you for your support.
Rally New Zealand 2020 CEO