28 August 2020

Narooma Forest Rally cancelled; future of Australian Rally Championship in doubt

| Sharon Kelley
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Harry Bates and Lewis Bates leaning on rally car in workshop.

Canberra’s rallying brothers Harry Bates and Lewis Bates remain in training despite doubts about the 2020 Australian Rally Championship. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

The Horizon Apartments Narooma Forest Rally that was scheduled for 19 September has been cancelled, placing the 2020 Australian Rally Championship in doubt.

The AMH Automotive Group Rally of the Bay is the only completed race offering championship points this year, and Motorsport Australia is set to make an announcement on the future of the 2020 series in coming days.

After being rescheduled from 1 August to 19 September this year, the Brindabella Motor Sport Club made the heartbreaking decision to cancel the Narooma Forest Rally in light of new COVID-19 event restrictions and border closures.

READ ALSO Canberra brothers Harry and Lewis Bates ready for Narooma Forest Rally

Brindabella Motor Sport Club vice-president Michael Wallace said despite having a COVID-19 plan and arrangements for temperature checks, social distancing and minimising contact between teams and officials, the decision was made to cancel the event.

“The NSW Government made the announcement cancelling all regional sports,” he said. “They won’t issue any permits in NSW for any event so in the end we couldn’t have run the Horizon Apartments Narooma Forest Rally.

“As a club, we’re not prepared to put anyone at risk. We made the decision to postpone and then cancel the event because we don’t want anyone put at risk of catching COVID-19 at one of our events.”

The next event on the calendar in the Australian Rally Championship is the Netier National Capital Rally, scheduled for 27-29 November, 2020.

Neal Bates from Neal Bates Motorsport said his sons, Harry Bates and Lewis Bates, are continuing their training with mountain biking and tennis, training their reflexes and honing their instincts without being able to rally.

“The view of the general championship is that if it can happen, it should, but if it can’t, then it can’t,” said Neal.

Motorsport Australia issued a statement on 18 August which said the NSW Chief Health Officer has implemented new restrictions which will impact the ability for events to go ahead in NSW. As of 19 August, no national or state level events – both championships and series – can be held anywhere in NSW for an expected six-week period.

Original Article published by Sharon Kelley on The RiotACT.

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