Rally Oz to move in 2001

Rally Australia is set to quit its traditional Perth base and head to the Victoria state capital of Melbourne next year in a snatch and grab move which echoed the one that saw Melbourne steal the Australian GP from Adelaide.

Rally Oz to move in 2001

The shock news broke in Perth today (Friday) and marks the departure of yet another major sporting event from the Western Australia capital. The event has been run in WA since its inception in 1988 and contributes over AUS$20 million to the local economy.

Ron Walker, Victoria's head of major events and the man behind the snaring of the Australian GP, is refusing to confirm the switch and the rally organisers maintain that it is just speculation. However it is understood that a formal announcement will be made early next week.

"This is about the fourth time this month these rumours have gone around," said WA sports minister Norman Moore. "We've convinced people so far that it's not going to happen, but you never know..."

The Confederation of Australian Motor Sports (CAMS) insists that it is not a party to any plans to switch the rally, but admitted that any move would have to be approved by the FIA. The WA government believes it has an agreement to keep the event in WA indefinitely.

Garry Connelly, clerk of the course for the current event, was unable to comment specifically on the possible deal, but admitted: "If it goes ahead then it will be bad news for Western Australia and devastating for the officials who have worked on the event there. Obviously it would also be good news for Victoria."

The event will be based in the Dandenong mountains close to Melbourne. Just 20kms outside the city is prime rally territory which will ensure a more compact route than the current Perth-based event. The region already has a round of the Australian Championship (August 26-27), but the new Rally Australia is expected to retain its traditional dates early in November.


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