Hopes remain high for fast-paced rally competition on Bay of Plenty gravel roads this year despite ongoing Covid-19 lockdown uncertainty.
Motorsport BOP this week announced the postponement of its October 17 Battery Town Rally Bay of Plenty.
A new date of Sunday, November 21 has been selected, providing an additional five weeks of lead-in time to monitor changing Covid-19 restrictions.
The date change means the rally won't be the final round of the now complete 2021 New Zealand Rally Championship, but planning is already under way for the 2022 event to feature in the national championship calendar.
Running a non-championship event in November will allow organisers and competitors an additional chance to prepare for the NZ Rally Championship event in the Bay of Plenty.
"The organisers of the Battery Town Rally Bay of Plenty have been assessing the impacts of the continued Covid-19 travel restrictions and the recent elevation to alert level 3 for the greater Waikato over the past few days," rally chairman David Loughlin said.
"The decision to end the NZRC effective immediately, while disappointing, is entirely understandable and has been made with the best intentions in the face of continued uncertainty.
"However, we have the opportunity to reschedule the Battery Town Rally Bay of Plenty as a non-championship event. And by moving into November the organising team, local community, and our fantastic sponsors have the best chance of delivering a high-quality event that benefits the local community and which competitors will enjoy."
At present, there are no plans to amend the route or schedule of the event.
"I would like to acknowledge the support of my organising committee, volunteer officials, sponsors, competitors, and the Whakatāne, Rotorua, and Western Bay of plenty District councils," Loughlin said.
"With much of the latter part of the rally season being affected by the latest lockdown, we are still confident of attracting a high-quality entry if it's feasible to run the event in November."
The one-day rally will start and finish in Whakatāne with crews competing over gravel special stages on closed roads in the Matata, Pukehina, and Rotoehu regions.
Motorsport NZ protocols will allow the event to run at level 2 Covid restrictions.
However, some related activities such as a pre-event Rally Show promotion planned in downtown Whakatāne on Saturday, November 20, and a prizegiving function will only go ahead if level 1 restrictions are in place at the time.