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WRC: Portuguese, Italian races postponed due to coronavirus

2020-03-25 08:59

FIRST WIN OF 2016: Belgian driver Thierry Neuville and compatriot co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul won the Rally Sardinia in their Hyundai i20 WRC. Image: AFP / Giuseppe Cacace

The next two rounds of the World Rally Championship (WRC), in Portugal (21-24 May) and Italy (4-7 June), have been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, the International Automobile Federation (FIA) announced on Tuesday.

"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.

Hyundai WRC driver Daniel Sordo took to social media to voice his disappointment at the decision to postpone the races. 

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."

In a response to a question from AFP, the FIA said the championship does not have to include a minimum number of rounds.

The next surviving round on the calendar is the Rally of Kenya on July 16-19.

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

- 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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