Coffs Coast fights to keep a WRC round after 2019
A DECADE ago the Coffs Coast called out for a signature event and Rally Australia delivered bringing a world-class sporting event to our shores.
Ahead of the 2019 Rally Australia, November 14-17 on the Coffs Coast, organisers are rallying the business community and the motorsport loving public to help Australia again secure a longer term tenure on the World Rally Championship calendar.
With the likes of New Zealand, Japan and Russia keen to win a round in coming years, Rally Australia in conjunction with the local business community is working hard to stage it's best ever event to prove to the WRC promoter why the Coffs Coast demands a longer term future in world rally.
Rally Australia has this year grown from a three-day into a four-day format, with the twilight super special stages returning to the Jetty Foreshores and stages in the Nambucca Shire being incorporated on the program again.
Today the rally aficionados met with business leaders to discuss the potential of the November event.
Rally Australia encouraged Coffs Coast businesses to take greater advantage of the opportunities created by the presence of one of Australia's biggest international motorsport events.
"Rally Australia wants to see more businesses actively targeting visitors from around Australia and around the world," event Chief Executive Officer Darryl Ferris said.
"The workshop helped all partners to be on the same page with current event plans and marketing strategies.
"In particular, we looked at how businesses can identify with the rally, how they can highlight the best the Coffs Coast can offer, how they can work with our national partners, lessons from past events and what we can learn from other big sports events.
"Third-party commercial activity is an important driver of Rally Australia," Mr Ferris said.
Mr Ferris said Rally Australia had attracted a prestigious line-up of partners since arriving on the Coffs Coast in 2011, including Destination New South Wales, Kennards Hire, Toyota Australia, Forestry Corporation of NSW, Coffs Coast tourism, Opal Cove Resort, Thrifty Car and Truck Rental, Fuji Xerox Business Centre, C.ex Coffs Ex-Services club, Pedders Suspension, Geoff King Motors, Bellbowrie Motors, Spare Chef Catering and All Office and Business supplies.
The event's senior sporting officials have recently completed a final review of the rally routes and now organisers await formal approval from the world motorsport governing authority in Paris.
The 27th WRC Rally Australia will again be based at the C.ex Coffs International Stadium in Coffs Harbour.
While most of the 300-plus kilometre route north and south of the city is unchanged except for minor details, WRC drivers are expected to welcome a return to the Utungan and North Bank stages, south of Macksville, last used in 2016.
They will replace the Newry stage, farther north, in the Saturday competition schedule. A 5.0km section of Newry will become the new venue for pre-event testing and shakedown events.
Although back on the itinerary, the 2019 7.53km Utungan and 7.91km North Bank stages will be run in the reverse direction from past years, meaning drivers will face a completely fresh challenge.
The "new" stages were inspected for suitability and safety last week by Australian former WRC star Chris Atkinson, who described them to event organisers as "fantastic, classic WRC stages".
"They're some of the best roads we've got," Rally Australia Clerk of the Course Wayne Kenny added.
"They're fast, flowing, open and undulating and quite technical for the drivers. There are numerous corners and hard-packed gravel, which will ensure some impressive speeds from the top WRC cars.
"As a bonus, the scenery around that part of the Nambucca Shire is a magnificent vista of lush green hills and valleys. The images shown to our worldwide television audience will be stunning."
Rally Australia will be the 14th and final round of this year's series.
It will kick off with the traditional Rally Show and Ceremonial Start on the Coffs Harbour Jetty Foreshores on Thursday, November 14 and finish with a globally-televised podium ceremony at the end of the Wedding Bells stage on Sunday afternoon.