The Coffs Coast could claim a round of the Asia Pacific Rally Championships in November if Motorsport Australia and Destination NSW can broker a sponsorship deal.
The Coffs Coast could claim a round of the Asia Pacific Rally Championships in November if Motorsport Australia and Destination NSW can broker a sponsorship deal. FIA

Rally revival set for the Coffs Coast in November

THE Coffs Coast has won hosting rights to a round of the Asia-Pacific Rally Championships in November, which could soften the blow of losing the World Rally Championships round to New Zealand this year.

The new rally event, proposed to be held from November 27-29, would be a winner-takes-all final of the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship, combined with the final round of the APRC's Pacific Cup and the finale of the Australian Rally Championship.

The new event announced by world motorsport body, the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile's (FIA) World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) at a meeting in Paris follows the cancellation of the 2019 Rally Australia on the Coffs Coast last November due to the threat of bushfires.

Even before the cancellation in November, the Coffs Coast had been aware that the Rally Australia round of the WRC would be handed to New Zealand this year under a rotation policy and amid complaints in the rally world about crowd numbers on local stages.

While rally aficionados have been confident of the WRC returning to Australia in 2021, the Coffs Coast was only said to "be the mix" with a host of other regions to stage the next Rally Australia.

Now the likelihood of a Coffs Coast round of the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship depends on the former Confederation of Australian Motor Sport - now known as Motorsport Australia - finding the budget and support from the State Government's tourism and major events arm, Destination NSW. It has been widely rumoured that the cancellation of the Australian WRC round last year, meant Rally Australia nursed debts of up to $1 million.  

The Coffs Coast hosted Rally Australia for seven years with the financial backing of Destination NSW.

The yet to be confirmed Asian-Pacific Rally Championships could potentially comprise the following rounds:

  • Rally Otago, New Zealand, April 3-5
  • Rally of Whagarei, New Zealand, May 8-10
  • Rally Tasmania, Australia, June 19-21
  • Rally Hokkaido, Japan, September 11-13
  • Rally Coffs Harbour, Australia, November 27-29