The Federation of Motor Sport Cubs of India (FMSCI) has announced the final schedule for the 2020 Indian National Rally Championship (INRC). The season was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and as lockdown rules have started to relax in many parts of the country, the federation has drafted a five round season. The 2020 FMSCI INRC will be organised by Champions Yacht Club, the same ones as last year. The rally will begin in late December this year with the complete season wrapping up in a month and a half by the end of January 2021.
According to the calendar released by the FMSCI, the season will kick-off in Itanagar, Arunachal Pradesh with two back-to-back rounds between December 16-17 and December 19-20, respectively. This will be followed by the third round in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, between January 9-10, 2021, followed by the fourth round in Hampi, Karnataka between January 23-24. The final round will take place in Bengaluru between January 30-31, 2021. While the first two rounds in the North East will be tarmac-based, the three rounds in South India will be held through gravel and dirt.
— FMSCI (@fmsci) October 9, 2020
For the 2020 season, the INRC has been shortened to a single-day rally with reduced competitive stage distance. This is not the first time though that a single-day rally format has been used for the championship. The FMSCI had previously experimented with the same in the 2016 season in a bid to reduce overheads and costs, but to little success.
While it's great to see the INRC actually taking place despite the pandemic, there are concerns about the timeline of the rounds. The shortened period remains a concern for the teams with respect to getting the cars and crew ready in time for each round. For instance, the Itanagar rounds are being held just two days apart. The third and fourth round have a break of just two weeks, while the fifth and final round takes place just a week after.
This also raises concerns if any member of the crew does contract COVID-19, it leaves them with little recovery time that could affect how teams perform. Then, there is enforcing COVID-19 protocols and SOPs through all rounds to minimise the risk of infection for the participants and also the local members involved. The organisers have their work cut out for them for this season, and rallying is the last concern here.