Otago Rally to proceed at ‘Red’ light setting
The Otago Rally has confirmed it will still run its 2022 event on 8-10 April, but with restrictions, after the Government’s decision this week to shift New Zealand to a Red traffic light setting.
Event Chairman Norman Oakley says after liaising with MotorSport New Zealand and Rally New Zealand, the decision had been made that, at this stage, the event can still run.
“We are pleased to confirm that, subject to any further precautions added to the Red traffic light setting, we believe we can hold this year’s event, with additional safety measures in place to adhere to the new setting,” says Oakley.
“If the country remains at Red, we will need to make a number of changes to what we had originally planned, but we are aided by the fact that, by its nature, rallying promotes social distancing, with the competitors spaced at one-minute intervals and the field spread out over many kilometres.”
Unfortunately, holding the event at Red would mean a likely impact on the public facing components and large gatherings that are a popular feature of the Rally, Oakley says. This would likely include the ceremonial start, Super Stage and Town Hall prize giving.
To compensate, event organisers are exploring ways to share the event better virtually, such as increasing event video, photo and media coverage.
The Rally is the first round of the National Championship, and incorporates the popular Classic and Allcomers fields. An eagerly anticipated start to the rally season, this year the field will also include guest drivers Olympian Hamish Bond and NZ drifting star ‘Fanga’ Dan Woolhouse.
Planning is well underway for the event, which has 270km of closed-road competition over 16 stages of fast, mainly public roads. Competitors and supporters are assured that the organising team are doing everything they can to make the event happen.
The team particularly wished to acknowledge the ongoing support of its major partners, the Dunedin City Council and Otago Daily Times.
“We are working through other aspects that might create too large a group of people, such as requirements around scrutineering and service parks,” says Oakley.
“Details will be announced in the supplementary regulations which are expected to be published shortly. Competitors should be aware that all participants, including service crews will be required to be double vaccinated and carry a vaccine certificate. Entries can be submitted with the assurance that fees will be fully refunded if they, or the event, are unable to continue.
“The Otago Rally feels a duty to the sport and to the community to run, if this can be achieved safely and responsibly. The event provides a significant benefit to the city’s accommodation and hospitality industry, in excess of 6,000 bed-nights on an ordinary year.
“We recognise that the Covid-19 situation is fluid. If the traffic light system is eased to ‘orange’ then it may be possible to reinstate some aspects of the Rally that can’t be held under ‘red’.” Conversely should the government impose further restrictions then a further reassessment of the viability of the event will be made.”
The Otago Rally is grateful for the support of Dunedin City Council Premier Event funding.