Hard road: Czech rally driver Martin Prokop competing in the 2009 WRC event in the Kyogle and Tweed shires.
Hard road: Czech rally driver Martin Prokop competing in the 2009 WRC event in the Kyogle and Tweed shires. Cathy Adams

Rally may move to Coffs region

COFFS HARBOUR has been named as the preferred destination to host Rally Australia should plans to continue the event on the Northern Rivers next year fall through.

Rally Australia chairman Alan Evans has confirmed contingency plans are in place for a possible rally relocation to the Mid-North Coast.

Mr Evans has spoken with the Coffs Harbour City Council and other interested groups on the possibility of picking up the multi-million dollar event.

The unveiling of a back-up plan comes just a day out from a crucial meeting at Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) headquarters in Paris, which will determine the future of the race in Australia.

“Coffs Harbour would be our preferred option for the rally if we can’t run it through the Northern Rivers,” Mr Evans said.

“We’ve been looking at other options. We need somewhere where we can have at least 300km of track, set up service parks and can handle the appropriate accommodation.

“Coffs Harbour certainly meets the criteria.”

Mr Evans would not speculate on other possible locations, but said there was more than one.

A spokeswoman for Coffs Harbour City Council on Friday confirmed discussions with Rally Australia.

“There have been discussions on it in the past,” the spokeswoman said. “We look at any opportunity that may present itself.”

Mr Evans said he was swayed to potentially host the rally in Coffs Harbour because of the town’s previous experience with hosting rally events.

The Coffs Coast Rally earlier this year served as round three of the Australian Rally Championships and round two of the New South Wales State Rally Championships.

Late last week, Mr Evans said a decision on Rally Australia’s future on the World Rally Championship calendar for 2011 would be determined in a meeting in Paris tomorrow night (AEST) by the World Motor Sport Council, a body of the FIA, which oversees the World Rally Championship (WRC).

Rally Australia served as round 10 of the of the worldwide series last year.

The meeting will determine if Rally Australia gets a guaranteed spot on the WRC calendar next year, as well as potentially deciding the location of the event.

The event has been met by heavy criticism from organised anti-rally groups since the first event in the Kyogle and Tweed shires last year.

On Friday, Tweed councillors voted by a narrow margin of 4-3 to support Rally Australia returning in the region next year.

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