Green light for Rally Australia?
RALLY Australia has put forward a business plan to the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) proposing that the Coffs Coast hosts an annual round of the World Rally Championships.
Bidding for hosting rights to a round on next year's WRC calendar and consecutive events in 2014 and 2015, Rally Australia also hopes to stage the final round of the championships in October/November.
"We are strongly optimistic, Rally Australia and Coffs Harbour will have a spot on the WRC calendar in 2013 and we hope we are successful in securing an Australian round over three consecutive years," ARC and Rally Australia chairman Ben Rainsford said.
"It makes perfect and logical sense for the event to return to Coffs Harbour. We had extraordinary support from the community last year and the teams and the drivers had a lot of praise for the rally routes.
"Mikko Hirvonen (reigning Rally Australia champion) said it best that Rally Australia had some of the best rallying roads in the world.
"We have also made an application to host the last WRC round of the year.
"It's an ambitious move and a bit of a gamble, given that the championship may already have been decided by then, but we have done so with the view that the teams and drivers can finish the year with a holiday during the Australian summer."
Mr Rainsford said if the Australian round is endorsed by the FIA in Paris in July/August it will almost certainly return to the Coffs Coast.
Rally Australia featured on a draft 2013 WRC calendar released in November.
"If Rally Australia returns next year we will do a lot of things differently. A large focus will be on working with the community and local business owners to ensure they leverage off the event to make their investment worthwhile.
"A lot of work needs to be done to appoint a team with more of a Coffs Harbour focus. We need on-the-ground leadership and the applications and interest in creating that rally hub are already coming together well.
The ARC is already involved in discussions with the FIA, Events NSW and the Coffs Harbour City Council.
The Coffs Coast Forest Rally round of the ARC will be held over the weekend of October 13 and 14.