Ott Tanak (EST) performs during FIA World Rally Championship 2018 in Coffs Harbour, Australia on November 18, 2018
Ott Tanak (EST) performs during FIA World Rally Championship 2018 in Coffs Harbour, Australia on November 18, 2018

RALLY RETURN: Prestigious event coming back to Coffs

After a three-year hiatus, a prestigious rally event will take place in Coffs Harbour.

To the delight of motorsport fans around NSW, the final round of the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship will take place on the Coffs Coast in November Premier John Barilaro announced today.

The region was home to the World Rally Championships for seven years before the bushfires triggered the event’s cancellation in 2019 and it was announced the rally cars would not return in 2020.

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Hayden Paddon driving his Hyundai WRC followed by a helicopter slides and jumps in scenic country side, on a rally stage just north of Coffs Harbour, NSW. Lyndon Mechielsen/The Australian
Hayden Paddon driving his Hyundai WRC followed by a helicopter slides and jumps in scenic country side, on a rally stage just north of Coffs Harbour, NSW. Lyndon Mechielsen/The Australian

Deputy Premier John Barilaro and Member for Coffs Harbour Gurmesh Singh today announced $500,000 to support bringing the hotly anticipated rally to the North Coast from 26 - 28 November.

“Staging another world class rally in Coffs Harbour is well overdue, after bushfires and COVID forced the cancellation of the event two years in a row,” Mr Barilaro said.

“The NSW Nationals are building a safer and stronger regional NSW by securing world-class events for country cities, showcasing our incredible regions to the world.

“This is an example of what can happen when you have a council who is prepared to work with the government and stakeholders to bring world-class events to regional NSW.”

While the cancellation of the 2019 event was a tough decision, with drivers and teams raring to go, it helped demonstrate how devastating bushfires could be to many unfamiliar with the risk.

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Six-time World Rally Champion Sébastien Ogier was moved by the ordeal and pledged financial support to organisations treating injured and rescued wildlife.

Sebastien Ogier (FRA) performs during FIA World Rally Championship 2018 in Coffs Harbour, Australia on November 16, 2018
Sebastien Ogier (FRA) performs during FIA World Rally Championship 2018 in Coffs Harbour, Australia on November 16, 2018

Motorsport Australia President Andrew Fraser said he was delighted at the prospect of international rallying returning to Coffs Harbour.

“The Coffs Coast has been a big part of the Australian rally scene in recent years and we know this 2021 event will be another fantastic event for the region,” Mr Fraser said.

“There’s no doubt that the community of Coffs know how to put on a world-class rally and we are really excited to be hosting this event, which will see a great mix of competitors from both Australia and overseas later in 2021.”

The Coffs Coast hosted Rally Australia for seven years, attracting thousands of spectators offering a significant boon for the regional economy.