STAYING PUT: Rally Australia will stand by Coffs Harbour despite criticism of the event by prominent drivers and manufacturers.
STAYING PUT: Rally Australia will stand by Coffs Harbour despite criticism of the event by prominent drivers and manufacturers. Trevor Veale

Rally Australia staying put despite displeasure

Motor sport: Rally Australia is remaining committed to Coffs Harbour for 2019 despite champion Sebastian Ogier and top manufacturer Toyota voicing their displeasure at racing in "the middle of nowhere” for the final round of the World Rally Championship.

Senior executive officer of Rally Australia Wayne Kenny said the body didn't feel any need to leave Coffs at this stage.

"No (we don't feel pressure), Rally Australia this year attracted total attendance of 83,155; 31 per cent more than in 2017,” Kenny said.

"This was a record number and we'll continue to strive to increase it in order to deliver direct economic benefits to the Coffs community.”

Though Kenny said the event would definitely be in Coffs for 2019, he noted the governing body of the sport in Australia have tested the waters to see if other regions could hold a stage or two.

"It's prudent for event organisers to be aware of fall back options, so we have over the past couple of years routinely surveyed the Hunter region and Sydney's outer-west,” he said.

"Neither offered the required combination of suitable rally and access roads with proximity to the rally base and sufficient accommodation, as does the Coffs Coast.”

"While Rally Australia has researched potential alternative locations, this has not been with the intention of leaving the Coffs Coast.”

A spokesman for the Coffs Harbour City Council said the event injects heavily into the Coffs economy so losing it would hurt the region.

"Rally Australia have advised that their direct spend as a result of the event on the Coffs Coast is $3.2 million,” the spokesman said.

"This produces an overall economic benefit for the Coffs Harbour Local Government Area of $12.2 million, including $7 million into the visitor economy. The size of the spend and benefit is therefore very significant.

"We look forward to again hosting the season finale of the FIA World Rally Championships here in Coffs Harbour in 2019.”