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In the space of a few short hours, the New Zealand Rally Championship was cancelled, yet the Australian Rally Championship confirmed cancellation was something they haven't even considered. How two different championships in neighbouring countries can be so far apart on how they are planning for the sport's future is quite remarkable. “It was a really difficult call to make but one we know is best for the long-term health of our sport,” NZRC co-ordinator, Blair Bartels, said. “The economic fallout will be significant, and it is just not practical to think entry numbers will be strong enough this season to make events sustainable at a national championship level, especially with so many of our competitors being small business owners." In Australia, the thought train is quite the opposite. "There's definitely been no discussion about cancelling the championship," ARC media manager, Paul Riordan, said. "We've been working with event organisers throughout this process, and we're trying to get an understanding of the government restrictions in relation to all motorsports."
So how can two countries be looking at a similar problem in totally different ways?
Who's made the right call? The answer is probably that there is no right or wrong decision here. We've said many times that we're in uncharted waters. What's right for New Zealand may not be right for Australia, and vice versa.

Hayden Paddon travelled from New Zealand to contest the ARC's Eureka Rally last year. Photo: Peter Whitten

Australia's many states, multiple state championships and different bodies of Motorsport Australia is much different to how things work in NZ, where the whole country runs under the auspices of Motor Sport New Zealand. New Zealand's Coronavirus rules are also in place for the whole country. Australia's are recommended by the federal government, and then it's up to the individual states to decide whether they enforce some, or all, of those rules.
For that reason alone, comparing the two countries and the decisions they've made is not really comparing apples with apples.
There's little doubt that New Zealand rallying will take a hit by not running their national title this year, but the 2021 season is likely to boast bumper fields of competitors eager to get back into it. In Australia, nobody can predict what impact a condensed ARC will have, whether that be in entry numbers, how many events actually run, and even if spectators are allowed to watch the action. So rather than criticising either country for making the right or wrong call, it would be prudent to wait until later in the year to make judgement. Even then, that judgement may be influenced by where you live and what impact any such decision has had on you personally. RallySport Magazine commends both the Australian and New Zealand championships for their bold decisions, and hope that both work out as planned. And the sooner we get rallying back, the better!

Related news:

https://rallysportmag.com/no-nzrc-but-arc-is-still-on-track/ https://rallysportmag.com/nzrc-cancelled-due-to-virus-impact/
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