Monday | 19 Oct 2020

Estonia WRC restart free of Covid-19

September’s FIA World Rally Championship restart event in Estonia was free of Covid-19 infection after a strict test and prevention programme around the fixture.

Rally Estonia organisers estimate 26,000 people from the country were involved in the 4 - 6 September event, including management, competitors, teams, fans and residents living along the route. No new cases of infection were recorded.

SYNLAB conducted 1,337 tests on those involved in the organisation and competition before and during the rally and all proved negative.

The Tartu-based event was the championship’s first post-lockdown fixture and was held under tight Coronavirus protocols. Fans wearing masks were allowed on the stages in limited numbers and service park restrictions were imposed to ensure maximum safety.

It was added to the calendar after several rounds were called off due to the pandemic, leaving rally director Urmo Aava and his team with just 63 days to prepare. Shaping a WRC round normally takes a full year.

Video: Rally Estonia best of action

It proved a huge success and their efforts were rewarded earlier this month with a slot on the 2021 calendar.

Aava praised the fans for their understanding and pointed to the support of the Estonian government, WRC Promoter and the FIA in overcoming ‘seemingly insurmountable difficulties’.

Prime minister Jüri Ratas offered his plaudits. “If experts contribute wholeheartedly, even the impossible becomes possible. This is exactly the principle reaffirmed by the Rally Estonia team this year,” he said.

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“It is an obvious challenge to offer great experiences to rally fans all around the world for the first time, and in a new level in the context of an indefinite crisis, without endangering anyone’s health.

“The organisers of the event that took place in Estonia this year had enough will and intelligence to deal with it excellently. I believe this is just the beginning. Thanks to the Rally Estonia team rally fans will gather in Estonia and enjoy new experiences over and over again.”

Jona Siebel, managing director of WRC Promoter, said that in the current climate the championship was fully committed to its duty of care to protect competitors, teams, officials, suppliers and media, as well as the local community.

“Providing access in a safe and responsible way was the most important aspect of the championship’s restart event in Estonia,” he explained.

“The absence of any new cases of Coronavirus infection during rally week is a clear indication of the success of the measures implemented and the willingness of everyone involved to adhere to those strict guidelines.

“The championship gained valuable experience and understanding of managing the challenges created by Covid-19 to carry forward.”