While rally teams travelling from Europe to Rally New Zealand may have their pre-event preparation affected, that won’t stop the event going ahead says organisers
The Rally New Zealand is part of the FIA World Rally Championship and starts in Auckland on 6 May.
“It’s an FIA World Rally Championship event,” says Rally New Zealand chairman Chris Carr. “Only the FIA (Federation Internationale de l'Automobile, the world governing body of motorsport) can make the decision to postpone or cancel the event and we’ve heard nothing to indicate that either of those options is even being considered.”
Carr and other officials are in regular communication with the WRC teams, which have just wrapped up competition in the Rally of Turkey.
“Virtually all the European teams are having difficulties getting home from Turkey – some are bussing, some have chartered private planes to take them on a route not affected by the ash,” says Carr.
“Some teams are commenting that their pre-event preparation will be severely compressed before the freight aircraft depart Europe for New Zealand in about eight days time. We appreciate that teams will be under considerable pressure to be ready to fly out to New Zealand, but the reality is, unless we are advised to the contrary by the FIA, Rally New Zealand will take place as scheduled.”
Carr’s comments are backed up by Morrie Chandler, the New Zealander who chairs the FIA World Rally Championship Commission.
“Based on the current situation, Rally New Zealand will run as scheduled. Everything’s in place and Rally New Zealand officials have done everything they’re meant to under FIA regulations,” says Chandler. “I understand some teams are looking at different, later freight options. If we get to the point of some teams not being able to make it to New Zealand, perhaps the situation will be revised, but at this point, that’s unlikely.”
Carr adds: “Today it’s obvious more planes are flying and that the ash is working its way through. I’m confident that the teams will make it to New Zealand, despite their lengthy journeys home from Turkey. All of our efforts are going to ensure that when the teams do get here, they have the best event possible. We will be ready in Auckland, on May 6th.”
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