Canberra's Netier National Capital Rally will be the only national event on Australia's rally calendar this year after a proposed condensed cross-border series was scrapped due to the coronavirus.
The proposed two-event national series, which previously encompassed a round in South Australia, has been dropped and the Canberra rally will now be condensed in a 2-day RSEA Safety Motorport Australia Cup on November 27-29.
The event will not count for points toward the national championship.
It means that Canberra driver Harry Bates, who is now based out of Sydney, will be unable to defend the national title he won last year in the locally-built turbocharged, all-wheel drive Toyota Yaris however, at this time he will at least headline the local event, together with his younger brother Lewis.
Clerk of Course for the event, Adrian Dudok, said that the change was regrettable but he was pleased that Canberra's rally was at least continuing.
"We've had to revise plans for the rally a number of times but at least we are still going ahead, which is great for Canberra and great for rallying in general," Mr Dudok said.
"There are so many people very keen to compete and I'm pretty chuffed that our sponsors are still with us and supporting us given the radical changes that have occurred this year to events all around the country."
He expects entries for the event will be full subscribed, with the likely field capped at 60 entries.
"We are still working out the detail of our rally. We've had so many revisions and updates so that level of detail will be coming in the weeks ahead," he said.
Motorsport Australia CEO Eugene Arocca said a national rally championship "just wasn't feasible" even in a shortened format.
"From a sporting point of view, it would be unfair to award a championship, if there are a number of those unable to leave their state, or forced to quarantine for two weeks either at the event location or when they return home," Mr Arocca said.
As a compromise, state rounds will be held around the country with with competitors who run on Hoosier tyres given their chance to win free entry into a 2021 round of the championship.
Canberra's four-time national champion Neal Bates, who runs the Gazoo Toyota Australia team, said it was the best compromise given the pandemic has caused so much upheaval to motor racing events around the country.
"We're just lucky that we can still hold an event here in Canberra when so many other events have not been able to run," he said.
"At this time, if nothing changes in terms of coronavirus travel restrictions, both Harry and Lewis will be competing in Canberra and we will be looking to schedule a test session in the forest in the lead-up to the event."
Neal Bates had his first run in his old two-wheel drive Toyota Celica last weekend in the local Blue Range Rallysprint, with his regular co-driver Coral Taylor unable to compete.
Although he has not driven in the heat of competition for more than 12 months, he showed he has still not lost any of his speed or capability, winning the two-stage rallysprint by 28 seconds.