Mosley confirms Rally Australia threat

The president of world motorsport's governing body, Max Mosley, has confirmed that Rally Australia will be removed from this year's World Rally Championship - unless the event's commercial and sporting departments reach agreement in the next few weeks

Mosley confirms Rally Australia threat

As revealed on autosport.com this morning, the event - one of the highest-rated on the WRC schedule - faces the axe from its 2003 slot, because of continuing disputes between its owner, the Western Australia Tourism Commission, and the body of officials who run the rally.

Rally Australia organisers have been swift to deny the story, and they quickly issued a release in which world rallying's media rights owner, International Sportsworld Communicators boss David Richards, indicated that he was unaware of any potential problems. But Mosley told autosport.com this afternoon that the media side of the event was not the issue placing it under threat.

"The difficulty is that this is not a commercial problem," said Mosley. "It's a sporting one. And we [the FIA] are the sporting authority. We know that there appears to be a real problem between the sporting and commercial people on Rally Australia. We've known about this since the World Motor Sport Council met in December. But it decided not to put an asterisk against the event's position in the 2003 calendar, and to instead send a high-ranking FIA official as an envoy, to report back on the situation.

"It seemed when he returned that a sensible agreement between the relevant parties was likely, but now there appears that there will be no agreement at all. And if that's the case, we cannot keep it in the calendar, because there are serious safety issues raised when the commercial and sporting sides of an event are not working together properly."

When asked if the event could yet save its status, Mosley said: "If they can sort themselves out to a satisfactory level, then yes. But it would appear at the moment that this isn't the case. If they can't get their act together then we can't keep them on the calendar. They'll still be able to run a Rally Australia, but it just won't be part of the world championship."

Mosley's comments are likely to spark renewed discussions between the factions in the Rally Australia dispute. The event is a valuable source of income to the WA region, and the area has fought off competition from rival cities like Melbourne to keep it in Perth.

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