Rally Australia set to secure WRC future
|By David Evans||Thursday, September 19th 2013, 15:57 GMT|
Rally Australia's long-term future in the World Rally Championship looks secure following a successful event last week.
The New South Wales rally had been rotating with Rally New Zealand, but has now secured a three-year deal with the WRC promoter and looks set to become a permanent fixture on the calendar beyond 2015.
Despite missing only one year through forced rotation between 1989 and 2006, the loss of Western Australia backing meant the end of Perth as a host city and three years in the wilderness.
The Kingscliff-based event in 2009 was far from WRC standards, but last week's rally, run out of Coffs Harbour, was a significant improvement.
Rally Australia chairman Ben Rainsford said: "We listened to what people said from two years ago, and we moved the rally village into town and made other changes. We are definitely going in the right direction with this event."
Australia's WRC aspirations will be helped by plans to include Sydney in next season's event.
"We did have an objective to do something special in Sydney this year, but we got smashed with our media presence," said Rainsford.
"We had a federal election in the lead-up to this and all the media wanted to talk about was the election.
"One plan for next year is that we finish service at the end of Saturday here, go into parc ferme here, which would be supervised transport for the cars down to Sydney and then a plane ride for teams, event organisers, journalists, the whole circus down to the city.
"We would then do a short stage in Sydney, where we have options like the Olympic Park or Homebush [V8 Supercars street circuit] and then throw an Australian party, a barbecue on the beach."
The good news for Rally Australia looks to be a blow Rally New Zealand, which continues to struggle on both the commercial and sporting side.