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Covid-19 puts brakes on Moray rally for second year running as April's McDonald & Munro Speyside Stages, the second round of the KNC Groundworks Scottish Rally Championship is cancelled


By Craig Christie

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ANOTHER blow to the Moray sporting calendar has been inflicted with the cancellation of the 2021 McDonald & Munro Speyside Stages Rally.

The Speyside Stages draws big crowds to Elgin's Cooper Park and stages around Moray and Aberdeenshire but has been cancelled for the second year running. Picture: Eric Cormack.
The Speyside Stages draws big crowds to Elgin's Cooper Park and stages around Moray and Aberdeenshire but has been cancelled for the second year running. Picture: Eric Cormack.

Elgin's 63 Car Club, who organise the event, one of the most popular rounds of the KNC Groundworks Scottish Rally Championship, have made the early decision to pull the plug.

It was scheduled to take place on April 17, but like last year has fallen victim to Covid-19 and the growing number of positive cases in Moray and Aberdeenshire.

A look back to the last running of the McDonald & Munro Speyside Stages in 2019.

Clerk of the course, Neil Shanks said: “We find ourselves here again, in a similar position to 10 months ago when we had to make the decision to cancel the 2020 event.

"Whilst as a club we are disappointed to take this course of action, we have a responsibility to all of our event volunteers, competitors, sponsors and partners to remove any uncertainty with a decision in good time.

Speyside Stages clerk of the course, Neil Shanks. Picture: Daniel Forsyth..
Speyside Stages clerk of the course, Neil Shanks. Picture: Daniel Forsyth..

"We would like to thank everyone for their continued support.”

The opening round of the Scottish Championships, the Snowman Rally in Inverness which was due to be contested in March, was cancelled last month.

Losing the Speyside Stages as well cuts the championship down from eight rounds to six, with some doubt remaining over which ones will take place.

The Jim Clark Reivers Rally based at Duns in the Scottish borders, now becomes the first round, scheduled to take place on May 30.

Other rounds are the Argyll Rally at Dunoon (June 25/26), Scottish Rally in Lockerbie (July 24), Grampian Forest Rally in Banchory (August 14), Galloway Hills Rally, Dalbeattie (September 11) and the Carlisle Stages (October 23).

The Speyside Stages organisers did consider putting this year's rally back to later in the year but made the call to cancel with the hope of the event returning in 2022.

"With a busy event calendar in the period where we will hopefully see things return to normal, the club have decided that cancellation, and not postponement is the most responsible course of action, and we will focus our efforts on the 2022 event, however far away that seems now," said the club.

"We look forward to meeting everyone again next year with a renewed sense of vigour, thinking about how much we have missed over the course of the COVID pandemic, and looking forward to the day we can enjoy the sport which unites us again.

"In the meantime, we can all play our part in reducing the spread of the disease by continuing to follow the government guidelines whilst waiting for the wider rollout of the vaccine, which is hopefully the key to normality returning, whilst we remember the suffering and loss many have experienced over the past 10 months."

Miguel Gomez, of event sponsors McDonald & Munro, added: “We fully support the decision that Neil and his team have had to make again. These are continuing uncertain times for us all, and safety is the top priority for everyone.

"We now look forward to 2022 when the event will return better than ever.”

The organisers say their decision was made with the full support of partners, and the organisers and sponsors of the Scottish Rally Championship.


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