Rally Australia: 'It's impossible to think about sport' - Meeke

Bushfires in New South Wales
A seven-day state of emergency has been declared in New South Wales

Northern Ireland's Kris Meeke says "it's impossible to think about sport" after Rally Australia was cancelled because of "catastrophic" bushfires.

The final round of the World Rally Championship was due to take place this weekend in New South Wales.

Three people have died and more than 150 properties have been destroyed in the state since Friday.

"To cancel the rally was absolutely the correct decision," Toyota boss Tommi Mäkinen said.

The cancellation of the final round ended any chance Toyota had of beating Hyundai to the manufacturers' championship, however Mäkinen said that the events in New South Wales had put the sport in perspective.

"Of course, the team originally came to Australia to try and fight for a championship, but in these terrible circumstances, we have not been thinking about that at all," said the four-time WRC champion.

"Our thoughts have only been with the people that have been affected by what has happened: They are the most important consideration, far more important than any rally, so we really did not wish for it to go ahead.

"We want to help the situation in whatever way we can, and hope that people's lives can return to some level of normality as soon as possible."

Jari-Matti Latvala
Jari-Matti Latvala won Rally Australia in 2018 for Toyota

Several drivers visited the Rural Fire Service in New South Wales to show their support for the local emergency services.

"Fire is an element that we don't really have so much of in Europe. Here it is quite common but not on this scale," Meeke told Toyota Gazoo Racingexternal-link.

"Hopefully they can keep it under control but until there is a decent amount of rainfall then I don't think the threat will go away."

Meeke's comments were echoed by team-mate Ott Tanak, who won the drivers' championship at the last round in Spain.

"Safety always comes as a priority, so when it comes to the cancellation of the event it really doesn't matter at all," he added.

"We really wish the locals all the best and hopefully they can stay strong."

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