More fans the plan for next Rally Australia
RALLY Australia organisers will assess a range of potential new spectator attractions as it plans the return of the FIA World Rally Championship to the Coffs Coast next year.
Organisers have set a goal to increase attendance beyond the record 63,415 achieved at the most successful event to date, which wrapped up the 2017 WRC season less than a month ago.
Event chairman Ben Rainsford said changes for the next Rally Australia, being held from November 15 to 18 next year, could include new competition stages, upgraded services and facilities at spectator points and more family attractions at the popular competitors' service park in Coffs Harbour.
"We've had plenty of positive feedback in the couple of weeks since our latest event about things such as the Destination NSW Super Special Stage and the extra service park attractions," Mr Rainsford said.
"There were many elements of Kennards Hire Rally Australia that made it one of the best events in the 2017 World Rally Championship but with other countries always bidding to be among the 13 on the calendar we can never stop innovating."
Mr Rainsford added that he's confident next year's rally will deliver spectators and competitors some significant enhancements.
"Rally Australia's attendance has grown every year since we moved to the Coffs Coast in 2011 and we want to keep that momentum," he said.
"The record total visitor numbers and an estimated 16,000 fans through the service park this year were great achievements and we've calculated the per capita attendance rate in a wide catchment area was many times that of one of the WRC's traditionally most popular rounds.
"However, we acknowledge that elements of the WRC have said they want to see even more fans in Coffs and so we'll address that challenge for 2018 and beyond."
Mr Rainsford said Rally Australia was in an excellent position to meet the challenge, with the New South Wales Government as a long-term supporter, strong local backing from the Coffs Harbour City Council, residents and businesses, commitments from commercial sponsors, an outstanding sporting team, professional marketing including the WRC's best media publicity and social media programs and a loyal corps of almost 1000 volunteer officials.
"Rally Australia is ideally positioned in other ways too. Our 2017 title sponsor Kennards Hire is Australia's largest privately-owned hire company and our vehicle partner Toyota is not only a WRC entrant but also the biggest-selling automotive brand in a domestic market expected to top 1.2 million this year," he said.
"Forestry Corporation of NSW uses Rally Australia to publicise its programs that are of major economic importance to the Coffs Coast region.
"And of course the Coffs region itself offers a highly-developed tourism infrastructure plus some of the best rally stages in Australia, all set in magnificent sub-tropical scenery.
"The combination of all these factors makes the Coffs Coast an excellent WRC venue."
Mr Rainsford said Rally Australia had helped to build the quality and momentum of the Australian Rally Championship but the event looked forward to working more closely throughout the season with international manufacturer teams to raise the profile of the WRC in Australia.