The 68th Rally Costa Brava is looking for a new date on the calendar.
The Rally Costa Brava should have opened the Historic European Championship this weekend in Girona, with more than 200 teams registered, but the increase in the number of Covid-19 infections in recent days cast doubt on the holding of the event we had been working in for so many months.
We were taking all the necessary measures following the recommendations offered by Public Health and the Advisory Council of the Civil Protection Plan of Catalonia, and it was necessary to prevent the participation of teams from countries that clearly posed a risk of contagion. For this reason, the FIA withdrew the scoring of the Rally Costa Brava for the European championship.
It was a hard but actually a fair measure with our Italian friends (and teams from other countries with Italian assists), and we assumed so. We sacrificed a part, which represented 10% of the teams, but the rally was saved. The loss of punctuation for the European made us predict a worse scenario, the probable drop of many foreign teams, almost half of those registered.
We got a huge and pleasant surprise -which we would never have discovered-, and it was that the vast majority of foreign teams confirmed their participation with phrases that moved us: “I don’t care about points, I like the Costa Brava Rally”, “It is the best rally in the European Championship, I am not missing it”, “the Costa Brava Rally is the only one fixed for each season”, etc.
Thus, we continued working tirelessly, with 165 teams ready to take the start. Many of them already installed in Girona for the whole week. The Coronavirus was exponentially expanding in Spain, and again according to the Consell Català de l’Esport, we adopted new measures to safeguarded the health of pilots, the public and the organization: elimination of mass events, concerts, face-to-face briefings, the prize-giving ceremony, signatures or selfies with the pilots, and reduction of the capacity of the Village.
After confirming that the measures were appropriate (received at 00h05 on Thursday the 12th), we thought the rally was definitely saved, like a miracle amid so many other cancelled events. At 10 am the podium was already set up, the assistance park full of equipment, the village showing off, the stages ready; and at 11am the official presentation of the event was made at the Pont de Pedra with the authorities (except for the City Council, who excused themselves for being in a crisis cabinet at the same time).
At 2:30 pm, a few hours after the start of the rally, a call came to me that I would have never wanted to receive. The General Secretary of Sports of the Generalitat de Catalunya, Mr. Gerard Figueras, called me to communicate to his regret, that the cancellation of the race was inevitable, due to the imperative need to allocate all public health and order personnel to the situation we are experiencing in the country for the containment of the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19).
At this point I want to personally thank Mr. Figueras for the rectitude with which he has always worked with his team, trying to give us all the information and advice to be able to carry out the Rally Costa Brava, until it has been necessary to cancel it. It hurts us, but it’s what we had to do.
Given the Generalitat’s decision to suspend all events in Catalonia, from the organization we had to organize in a short time a scenario that was not planned at all, such as dismantling the event just before the start. We were locked with 10 people for an hour in the race direction, to plan how to stop all the preparations, warn those who were still on the road, and above all announce to the participants and fans the suspension of the test, and begin to deal with the difficulties that this fact would suppose. We had the communication ready at 4pm, although the networks always find a way to filter news before making it official.
What we have experienced at the base has been really hard; See how the work of the entire organization, of the volunteers, the time and money invested, vanished in a few seconds … it has been something that none of us will never forget.
It personally reminds me of the Montjuïc Revival, a loss beyond reason.
We never imagined that everything would end up being so complicated and that in this last week we would go through this emotional roller coaster: the joy of the first days knowing that the rally was going on, the disappointment when we learned from the FIA that we were out of the championship, the Satisfaction of the support of the majority of the teams, the tranquility of the definitive OK within a few hours of the official presentation, and the final despair and helplessness before the cancellation of an event that for us means simply much more than a rally: THE RALLY COSTA BRAVA, the oldest in Spain, and the most wanted by pilots and fans.
Seen with a little perspective, we know that no matter how much damage it does to all of us, the decision is the right one, and it is made for the common good, prioritizing the health and well-being of all people.
Another unforgettable, exciting moment has been the farewell of many teams to their places of origin: “do not feel guilty”, “the rally was perfect, we will return next year”, “cheer up, we want you to organize it again, you have all our support. ” The messages we are receiving are helping us to get through this bad drink. And we thank you with all our hearts.
After 24 hours of mourning, from today we have started to work, with a fresher head, to try to put together a 68 Rally Costa Brava on a date that could fit the FIA, to be valid for the European 2020.
I hope we can give you good news soon. For now, let’s all take good care of ourselves, and that we can return to normal life as soon as possible, in good health.
A big hug.