Rally Australia will hope to return its 2016 super special stages to the Jetty.
Rally Australia will hope to return its 2016 super special stages to the Jetty. Trevor Veale

World rally to return to the Jetty stage

ORGANISERS of the world championship Rally Australia are well advanced with plans to return to Coffs Harbour's Jetty recreation and entertainment precinct as the setting for a globally-televised competition stage next November.

The rally has been negotiating with the Coffs Harbour City Council, Jetty business operators, government agencies and other parties over a new plan for a Super Special Stage during the 17-20 November event.

The stage would be run on multiple days over a short course along the harbor foreshore, providing easy spectator access and an iconic scenic backdrop for a live television broadcast to more than 65 million households around the world.

Rally Australia Chairman Ben Rainsford said the Super Special Stage could be run at the end of each day's schedule, but still in daylight due to the rally's move to its new November calendar slot, which would be in daylight-saving time.

"This offers substantial advantages over the previous Jetty visit of the FIA World Rally Championship in 2011," he said.

"The earlier time will be better for spectators, especially families. Daylight will allow far better viewing of the world's greatest rally car drivers in action and the harbor, beaches, headland and island will be bathed in afternoon sunshine for the television.

"This will be a Super Special Stage setting like no other in the World Rally Championship. The Jetty is a wonderful community asset that already supports a wide variety of uses and television viewers in every part of the world will see what a beautiful place it is to visit."

Mr Rainsford said an earlier start for the stage would mean an earlier finish, with spectators having plenty of evening left to enjoy the Jetty precinct's restaurants and bars.

"With this Rally Australia being the finale of the 2016 WRC, we expect visitors and competitors alike will be in the mood to party.

Returning the Super Special Stage to the Jetty would answer the calls of local traders to get more benefit from the rally and I'm pleased to say they are already strongly supporting the proposal."

Organisational advantages would include eliminating the need for expensive lighting of the area from the jetty to the headland.

Environmental issues were also being considered, Mr Rainsford said.

"We have engaged with the relevant stakeholders including the National Parks and Wildlife Service and will draw on our own environmental expertise, which is second-to-none in world motorsport and has achieved the highest level of certification. Our environmental plan would comply fully with any requirements imposed by the authorities."

A final decision on the move is expected in the next few weeks.