Rally champion's big-hearted gesture for a bushfire appeal
SIX-TIME World Rally Champion Sébastien Ogier has pledged a big donation to support organisations, which are treating and rescuing wildlife in New South Wales.
Ogier explained how scenes from the NSW bushfires had moved him this week, especially those showing the impact the fires have had on people on the Coffs Coast and wildlife.
"I feel very sorry for the community in dealing with fires," Ogier said.
"Wildlife is close to my heart and I'd like to make a donation especially to those organisations helping wildlife from the bushfires."
The bushfire situations surrounding the Liberation Trail Fire at Nana Glen and the Kian Rd fire at Nambucca Heads have prevented Kennards Hire Rally Australia from going ahead on the Coffs Coast this week.
After considering a reconfigured rally event on tarmac stages, rally organisers said they were forced to make a decision to cancel the event, given the bushfire danger.
The decision was ultimately made after extensive discussions with the New South Wales Government, the FIA, emergency services and local organisers.
Ogier, a three-time winner of Rally Australia, announced he will be retiring from the World Rally Championships after next year's season.
Given the rotation of Rally Australia's southern hemisphere WRC round to New Zealand next year, it's unlikely he will be seen again in a rally car in Australia.
In a farewell gesture he attended a luncheon with rally volunteers at the Coffs Harbour Showground this afternoon.
Newly crowned 2019 WRC champion Ott Tänak, who is celebrating his maiden driver's championship, said he shared in the Coffs community's disappointment that Rally Australia couldn't go ahead this week.
On their early departure, the WRC teams who were set to contest Rally Australia have made a generous donation to the local community.
Surplus food from their rally camps has been donated to local charity Oz Harvest and Rally Australia said the teams' accommodation bookings have also been donated to help families affected by bushfire.