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The latest extension to Melbourne’s lockdown rules, which takes it through to at least September 2, has left the rally organisers with no other option than to postpone the 100th anniversary event.

Already behind schedule with the roadwork and preparation of the route instructions required for the four day rally, Clerk of Course, Owen Polanski, has been contacting all event stakeholders to advise of the decision.

“I’m sure there’s nobody who doesn’t understand the situation and the position we’re in, and we’ve had full support from those who we have been in touch with,” Polanski said.

“We would rather put the event back 12 months than have a rally that was missing key competitors, and lacked the presence that the 100th anniversary Alpine Rally deserves.”

Polanski had already told RallySport Magazine that if the roadblock couldn’t be finished by the end of August, then the event was likely to be postponed.

COVID-19 case numbers in Melbourne haven’t risen dramatically since that time, but a worrying number of ‘mystery cases’ have forced the Victorian government’s hand, with a lockdown extension announced, and an overnight curfew also introduced.

The official statement from the Alpine Rally is one of sadness amid the unfortunate news.

Clerk of Course, Owen Polanski, at the conclusion of the 2019 Alpine Rally of East Gippsland.

Owen Polanski, Alpine Rally Clerk of Course:

After taking into account the worsening COVID-19 lockdown conditions around Australia, the organisers of the Lock & Load Alpine Rally of East Gippsland have decided to postpone the event until December 2022

Due to the current lockdowns in Victoria we are not able to work on the roadbook and other instructions. Additionally, we have serious and increasing concerns that competitors from all Australian states and territories, as well the growing contingent of overseas competitors, spectators and media, will not be able to attend.

Therefore, we have decided to postpone running the event until we are back into a more stable environment and all state and international borders are fully open.

We have contacted our event sponsors and local stakeholders in East Gippsland to explain our decision and they have been incredibly supportive.

The last 18 months has been a very difficult time for these communities, and we want to ensure that we run the most successful event possible. If you are able to visit the region over the next few months and support their economy we encourage you to do so.

Postponement is not the outcome anyone wanted, or even anticipated, at the beginning of 2021. But, to press on in such uncertain times we will wind up running a compromised event. This will not do justice to the celebration of Australia’s oldest running motorsport event and that’s not the way we want to see such an important landmark recognised.

We’re following the example set by the Tokyo Olympics – aiming for next year at the same time and sticking with the current branding. We’re aiming to run #AlpineRally100 from 1 to 4 December, 2022.

We will work with Motorsport Australia over the coming weeks to look at what changes may need to be made to the event documents and re-issue those documents as quickly as possible.

As always, if anyone has any further questions about this decision please contact Owen Polanski, the Clerk of the Course on [email protected]

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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. In 2020 he received a Motorsport Australia 'Media Service Award'.
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. In 2020 he received a Motorsport Australia 'Media Service Award'.

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