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How has the FIA Rally Department responded to Covid-19? “First and foremost, we’ve been available and responsive to organisers, competitors and the ASNs. We’ve been flexible and supportive and maintained an open dialogue with a number of institutions so we have a full understanding of all the issues, such as restrictions caused by mass gatherings, social distancing, quarantine measures, border access, availability of resources at a local level and the ability of organisers and competitors to fund their rally and their participation respectively.” Why is flexibility so important? “We need flexibility to implement measures relating to formats and regulations as well as cost reduction. We are finding agreement in a number of areas much faster than in the past because everybody is working together for the good of the sport.” The WRC calendar for 2020 remains fluid. Why is this? “The DNA of rallying makes it quite complex to organise events without public. We have therefore linked the decision-making process to governmental decisions. As the evolution of national health policies is still uncertain, we have been obliged to take some time before scheduling a new calendar.” How many events will the 2020 WRC calendar entail? “The most realistic prospect is a seven-event calendar and we are close to achieving that. For sure there are always a lot of question marks but I have seen a great commitment from organisers to do everything possible to be part of the championship. We have seen the same in the other championships, such as the ERC, and the huge job the Rally di Roma Capitale organisers, for example, have done through the development of a social distancing app to be able to organise their event.” What are some of the positive aspects of the crisis? “All the stakeholders are really working together because everybody understands very well that we are in the same boat. More than in the past, there is the same approach from everyone because the success of the championships and the sustainability of rallying is what matters most. The situation is requiring us to be more open-minded than in the past. It would be crazy not to try different things in terms of how we organise events. For example, if we were able to take the WRC back to the USA, we will not be able to apply 100 per cent the format of a European event to the States, so now is the time to be innovative and forward-thinking.” Will Covid-19 delay the start of the Rally1 era and the use of hybrid technology? “We stick to the plan and to the timeline. For sure, regarding the manufacturer commitment for 2022, we will look to August rather than June to secure this. But if we are two months later after a three-month crisis, it’s still not so far from what we expected. All the manufacturers are working hard on the 2022 car. There is a weekly working group on the technical regulations to answer all the questions manufacturers have. When you start to design the car, that’s when you start to have a lot of questions. We have also put in place a weekly meeting with WRC Promoter and the manufacturers in order to have a good level of communication.”
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