The European Rally Championship season opener Rally Liepaja has been cancelled due to 'uncharacteristically warm weather conditions' which have caused safety concerns.
The Latvian rally has been suspended from taking place on the 5-7 February by rally organisers after a number of stage inspections considered the event unsafe in current conditions.
The inspections explained that rain and ambient temperatures above freezing over recent weeks have damaged the surface of the stages and as the rally takes place on public roads any potential damage to the road surface would cause disruption.
The decision has been made seven days before the start of the rally to ensure no unnecessary travel or costs are suffered by competitors or fans and plans to reschedule the event later in the year are underway between the ERC promoter, Eurosport Events, and the FIA World Motor Sport Council.
“Safety is always the number one concern and with safety very much in mind the organisers were left with no alternative other than to postpone Rally Liepāja until later in the year,” ERC co-ordinator Jean-Baptiste Ley said. “The organisers have also considered the interests of the communities living on the event route because running the rally with no ice covering the stages would have resulted in considerable damage to roads that are essential for use on a daily basis.
“Obviously we are extremely disappointed with this development and our sympathies go out to the organisers and the many volunteers who have been working day and night to arrange what is always one of the highlights of the ERC season. We're well aware of how many disappointed fans there will be and we're also more than aware of the work the drivers, co-drivers and teams have been putting in to get ready for the rally.”
Rally Islas Canarias will now host the opening round of the 2016 ERC season on the 10-12 March.