Thousands in Kyogle watch the rally cars at their remote service centre.
Thousands in Kyogle watch the rally cars at their remote service centre. Jay cronan

Rally keen to come back again

REPCO Rally Australia bosses have reiterated their commitment to holding the event in the Tweed and Kyogle shires every two years despite protests at the weekend's event.

President of the Rally Australia board, Alan Evans, stopped short of guaranteeing the World Rally Championship leg would return in 2011, but he was confident the event would be back in the Northern Rivers after announcing more than 50,000 spectators had watched part of the three-day race.

“From our point of view we have to negotiate with the FIA (world motor body) and ISC (event managers) but certainly we'll be putting in a very strong bid to have the event,” he said.

“I'm extremely optimistic that we will have the event. I wouldn't be out there saying it will absolutely come back but I think 99.9 per cent certain we'll get it, but you know you've always got to leave that little margin.”

When asked whether protesters, who forced the abandonment of two stages on Byrrill Creek Road on Friday, could claim any victory, Mr Evans was resolute.

“I'm certain we will be back which will dampen their enthusiasm down because it's not going to happen. The event's not going to go away. It will be here, it will be here in 2011,” he said.

When the rally was first announced organisers predicted a crowd of about 15,000 to 20,000 spectators would attend.

Instead, Rally Australia drew more than 50,000 with the figure even possible rising to 70,000.

“From our point of view we had over 50,000 credentialed people looking at the rally and that's the preliminary figures,” Mr Evans said.

“They may well go up later because we're still getting data from Ticketek. The overwhelming support of the community was absolutely gratifying and can I say the thing that struck me was the way the community of the Tweed and Kyogle shires reacted to the event was overwhelmingly positive.”

Spectators on private land were not counted in the estimates, but could raise the figures even higher. The review is expected to take a few months.

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