Heat, wildfire threat forces Andalucia Rally postponement

The World Rally-Raid Championship cannot catch a break in 2022. Already on a three-month hiatus after the cancellation of Rally Kazakhstan in April, the upcoming Andalucía Rally is the newest victim of ongoing circumstance as a heat wave and drought, both of which carry the danger of causing wildfires, have resulted in its postponement. A new date has not been immediately revealed, though series officials expect it to be in the fall.

Held in Spain since 2020, the Andalucía Rally is billed as a prelude to the Dakar Rally in January. Had the event taken place as scheduled, 5/6 June would have seen private testing followed by qualifying on 7 June and five days of racing beginning in Dos Hermanas. The second stage would take place in the Sierra Sur, with the next three respectively at Comarca de Antequera Valle Del Guadalhorce, Condado de Huelva, and the Bay of Cádiz. The rally’s bivouac would be located at the Gran Hipodromo de Andalucía.

2022 is also supposed to see the début of the Andalucía Classic, a regularity rally whose format has been used at Dakar since 2021. The Classic is one stage shorter than the primary Rally as it has a prologue and just four stages to end on 11 June.

While a formal replacement date has not been finalised, the series hopes to retain the original course layout.

Credit: Andalucía Rally

“These extreme weather conditions have considerably increased the risk of fires in the region, leading the local authorities to raise the level of fire alert to its maximum,” reads a W2RC statement. “To preserve this already fragile ecosystem and despite the full support of the local authorities, all the parties involved have decided that continuing with the rally is not possible at this time.

“This case of force majeure has obliged A.S.O. (Amaury Sport Organisation), the FIA, the FIM and the organiser to postpone the Andalucía Rally until the autumn, to a date still under consideration, but on the initially planned route.”

Assuming no further changes to the schedule, the World Rally-Raid Championship’s next round is now the Rallye du Maroc in Morocco on 6–12 October, over seven months since the most recent event in Abu Dhabi. Currently in its inaugural season, the W2RC has suffered from plenty of calendar misfortune for reasons not even associated with the COVID-19 pandemic that has ravaged many motorsport schedules since its onset in 2020. Rally Kazakhstan, originally planned for 24–30 April, was called off a month prior due to the invasion of Ukraine by the host country’s neighbour and ally Russia.

Nasser Al-Attiyah has won every edition of the Andalucía Rally in the Cars category, while the Bikes overall was split by Kevin Benavides and Joan Barreda.

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