THE Wales Rally GB has been cancelled.

The decision represents a hammer blow to the Mid Wales economy with the event attracting more than 100,000 spectators to the region each year along with more than £9m in economic benefit.

The 76th staging of the historic event had been scheduled to take place between October 29 and November 1, with Llanidloes and Dolgellau holding stages and Newtown hosting the afternoon regroup. 

However the ongoing coronavirus pandemic means this year the rally will not take place.

The cancellation of the premier rally has also led to the British Rally Championship (BRC) season being scrapped.

The Welsh Government restrictions on large gatherings means the Wales Rally GB joins a long list of events cancelled or postponed.

Motorsport UK chairman David Richards CBE said: "This is not a decision that we have taken lightly but, in close consultation with our chief funding partner the Welsh Government, it is sadly one we are obliged to make in light of the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic.

"In recent years, the huge appeal of the latest generation of World Rally cars plus the presence of local star Elfyn Evans have drawn record crowds to the wonderful Welsh forests, but this is not the appropriate time for us to be planning for and promoting an event that brings tens of thousands of visitors, many from outside the country, into rural Welsh communities.

"As the governing body of UK motorsport, our overriding responsibility and absolute priority is always the safety of all involved whether they be competitors, officials, spectators or the many thousands of volunteers who share our passion for this sport, and we thank them all for their ongoing support and enthusiasm in these difficult times.

"While significant progress is being made to combat the virus, there remains considerable uncertainty regarding mass gatherings, social distancing and travel restrictions, plus the possibility of a resurgence of viral transmission later in the year.

Organisers insisted all attention would now turn to returning to the Mid Wales forests in 2021.

Mr Richards added: "We have been closely monitoring the guidance issued by Government and it is becoming increasingly clear that it is impossible to make plans with any certainty for such major events in the autumn.

"We therefore have to accept, with an incredibly heavy heart, that cancelling this year’s event is the only responsible and prudent option.

"We will instead start focusing our attentions on creating an even bigger and better world-class showcase for 2021.”

The cancellation of the 2020 event represents only the fourth time in history the Wales Rally GB will not take place with the event also cancelled in 1940, 1957 and 1967 while being a constant feature of the Welsh sporting calendar since 2000.

The cancellation of the event has led to the remainder of the British Rally Championship (BRC) season being scrapped.

Organisers confirmed no further events would be organised until 2021.

Manager Iain Campbell said: "Unfortunately, now Wales Rally GB is not going ahead, it is not possible to continue with sufficient events to have a full and meaningful championship.

"The situation that the UK has found itself in since mid-March with the COVID-19 pandemic has been a constantly moving and fluid situation regarding the movement of people, hosting events and social distancing.

"It has all happened over quite a short period and it was hoped that restrictions could be lifted in the coming months to give us confidence and to have sufficient rounds to have a proper competition.

"With the loss of our reserve event – which accounts for two rounds, we have taken the decision to not continue the championship.”

"We fully support the decision concerning the cancellation of Wales Rally GB and wish to thank our competitors, partners and event organisers for their patience and work throughout this period.

"We hope the situation will improve throughout 2020 and we will in the meantime plan to come back stronger in 2021.”