Rally Australia faces axe from WRC

Rally Australia is likely to be dropped from this year's World Rally Championship, following continuing disputes in the event's management

Rally Australia faces axe from WRC

The Perth-based rally has set new standards of promotion and organisation within the WRC since it first entered the series in 1989, but recent changes in the management structure have resulted in bitter arguments involving officials and the Western Australia Tourism Commission, which owns the event. Garry Connelly, the highly-rated Clerk of the Course of the rally, vacated his post late last year.

Motorsport's governing body, the FIA, sent an envoy to Australia last month to ensure that all the required infrastructure was in place for the event to run this year. But while he was apparently satisfied that the matter had been resolved, the situation is said to have worsened again in recent weeks.

The FIA's World Motorsport Council is due to meet in April, and autosport.com understands that barring a major turn-around on behalf of the rally, it is likely to be removed from its September 5-7 slot in the 2003 calendar. One senior FIA source indicated: "Nothing's definite, but it doesn't look good for Australia."

Australia's removal would drop the schedule to 13 rallies, and that could yet drop to 12 if hostilities break out in Iraq and cast the next round, the Rally of Turkey, into further doubt.

Rally Australia organisers have denied there is a threat, however. Richard Muirhead, CEO of the WATC, said: "It is difficult to take this report seriously, given that the FIA's own observer report at last year's event considered it the best in the championship." For more on this, click on the link below.

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