Organisers of the Wales Rally GB have announced that the event has been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It’s the first time that the annual motorsport event has been cancelled in more than 50 years.

The rally, which was set to run from October 29 to November 1 as the penultimate round in the 2020 World Rally Championship (WRC) calendar, typically attracts around 100,000 spectators to the forests of mid and north Wales.

It has only previously been stopped by World War Two in 1940, the Suez Crisis of 1957 and the resulting rationing in petrol and the outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease in 1967.

However, the organisers have cited ‘too many unknown factors’ as well as concerns surrounding safety restrictions imposed on large-scale gatherings – as well as international travel – as reasons against hosting the event.

David Richards CBE, chairman of Motorsport UK, governing body of UK motorsport and organiser of Wales Rally GB, 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.

“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.

“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 attention on creating an even bigger and better world-class showcase for 2021.”