There’s light at the end of the COVID tunnel

Are you a glass half full person, or a glass half empty person?

Depending on your point of view, 2020 can either be the year to forget, or the year to celebrate what’s great about the motorsport that you live and breathe.

It’s true that what we had planned back in January or February didn’t eventuate. That damned Coronavirus reared its ugly head and took just about everything we love with it.

Not only were rallies given the chop, but whole championships as well. It wasn’t very long into the year when we started to wonder not when events would be held again, but if.

Like any good boxer though, rallying got up off the canvas and made the most of what limited opportunities were on offer.

Blue ribbon events such as the Ashley Forest Rallysprint, the Otago Rally and, regrettably, Rally New Zealand, may not have got off the ground, but from the misery came hope.

Jacks Ridge Rallysprint

The tremendously popular Jack’s Ridge Rallysprint is one event that not only debuted, but provided even more than rally organisers would have hoped for.

The television coverage was first class, the venue perfect, and the competition of the highest standard.

Who would have thought that not only would Shane van Gisbergen beat the rally stars to victory, but that hot-favourite Hayden Paddon would spectacularly crash out of the event?

Certainly not me. But that’s the kind of year that 2020 was.

From a competitive point of view, it’s hard to go past the emergence of young guns Robbie Stokes and Jack Hawkeswood. Both drivers did just about every rally they could throughout a tumultuous year, and their results speak for themselves.

They’ll be young men to watch closely in 2021.

While many events were cancelled, the year could also be seen as a blessing in disguise in some ways.

Rally organisers are hardy souls who put their lives on hold to run rallies for appreciative competitors and spectators. Usually on a voluntary basis too.

For many, who were presented with an unexpected year on the sidelines, it will have given them a chance to regroup, to re-ignite the fire, and to come back in 2021 bigger and better than ever.

Of course, none of us wanted the stop-start year that we’ve had, but we’re all smart enough to know that despite the ups and downs, to have any events running was a great effort.

And, when you compare New Zealand’s woes with those of the rest of the world, and in particular rally-mad Europe, then we haven’t got much to complain about.

For now though, it’s Christmas, so rest up, tinker with that rally car and get yourself ready for a bumper New Year.

See you in 2021.

Peter Whitten

Peter has been the editor of RallySport Magazine since its inception in 1989, in both printed and online form. He is a long-time competitor, event organiser and official, as well as working in the media.

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