26 years in world elite

Ken­nards Hire Rally has a rich his­tory

The Coffs Coast Advocate - - KENNARDS HIRE RALLY AUSTRALIA -

Coffs Coast lo­cal res­i­dents and busi­nesses en­thu­si­as­ti­cally wel­comed the stars and cars of the WRC for the first time in 2011.

KEN­NARDS Hire Rally Aus­tralia is one of just 13 events on one of the most elite cal­en­dars in mo­tor­sport, the FIA World Rally Cham­pi­onship.

With the WRC’s great­est at­trac­tions in­clud­ing the di­ver­sity of land­scapes, weather, and cul­tures on its an­nual global tour, Ken­nards Hire Rally Aus­tralia show­cases the unique, sub-trop­i­cal set­ting of the Coffs Coast to a mas­sive au­di­ence of spec­ta­tors and tele­vi­sion view­ers.

Novem­ber 16-19 will see the 26th run­ning of Rally Aus­tralia and its fifth on the Coffs Coast.

It will also be the 25th time as an FIA World Rally Cham­pi­onship round.

The in­au­gu­ral event in Western Aus­tralia in 1988 hosted the FIA Asia Pa­cific Rally Cham­pi­onship.

Its or­gan­i­sa­tion was so suc­cess­ful that Aus­tralia was awarded its first WRC round for the fol­low­ing year.

Held in and around the state’s cap­i­tal, Perth, its stun­ning red-ochred earth and fast, nat­u­rally mar­bled, slip­pery sur­face quickly earned an es­teemed rep­u­ta­tion among the rally com­mu­nity.

The lo­ca­tion and na­ture of the event was a per­fect breed­ing ground for in­no­va­tive and in­spired ideas that have since be­come WRC sta­ples.

The city park­lands be­came one of the first WRC rounds to utilise a clover­leaf-style su­per special stage, bring­ing spec­ta­tors and spon­sors close to the ac­tion.

Rally Aus­tralia also utilised a full elec­tronic tim­ing sys­tem for these stages, en­abling split tim­ing and fi­nal re­sults to be recorded down to one tenth of a sec­ond.

As well as a pop­u­lar fol­low­ing among fans, driv­ers, teams, of­fi­cials, and the me­dia, the event earned of­fi­cial ac­claim, re­ceiv­ing the cov­eted Rally of the Year Award, voted by WRC teams, in 1995, 1999, and 2000.

The World Rally Teams As­so­ci­a­tion awarded Rally Aus­tralia the Best Pro­moted Rally Award in 1997, the Award for Ex­cel­lence in Cre­ative and Pro­fes­sional Or­gan­i­sa­tion in 1998, and the Rally Press As­so­ci­a­tion voted it the Best World Rally in 1997.

The WRC’s run in WA ended in 2006, but with the sup­port of the New South Wales Gov­ern­ment it reap­peared on the Tweed Coast in 2009, aim­ing to ap­peal to a larger pop­u­la­tion of fans.

Rally Aus­tralia moved again in 2011 to a new home 300 kilo­me­tres far­ther south on the Coffs Coast.

Steeped in the his­tory of the fa­mous South­ern Cross In­ter­na­tional Rally, lo­cal res­i­dents and busi­nesses en­thu­si­as­ti­cally wel­comed the stars and cars of the WRC.

In re­turn, the WRC put on a spec­ta­cle the likes of which had never been seen, cul­mi­nat­ing in Finn Mikko Hir­vo­nen win­ning his third straight Rally Aus­tralia.

The 2013 event held prom­ise of Volk­swa­gen driver Se­bastien Ogier clinch­ing World Driv­ers’ Cham­pi­onship, but it was dra­mat­i­cally de­nied not by his own fail­ure but by that of a ri­val.

But the rally or­gan­is­ers counted their own suc­cess, be­ing awarded not only a date on the 2014 cal­en­dar but also the pres­ti­gious FIA In­sti­tute Achieve­ment of Ex­cel­lence for en­vi­ron­men­tal sus­tain­abil­ity – the first mo­tor­sport event in the world to do so.

Sub­se­quently, Rally Aus­tralia also be­came the first FIA-sanc­tioned event to achieve Car­bon Neu­tral Sta­tus.

The 2014 Rally recorded the first ap­pear­ance Down Un­der of the fac­tory Hyundai Mo­tor­sport team, with Aus­tralian Chris Atkinson as one of its three driv­ers.

How­ever, the glory be­longed to Volk­swa­gen with Polo R WRC driv­ers Se­bastien Ogier, Jari-Matti Lat­vala and An­dreas Mikkelsen fin­ish­ing an ex­tra­or­di­nary 1-2-3 and en­sur­ing the make’s early vic­tory in the World Man­u­fac­tur­ers’ Cham­pi­onship.

Volk­swa­gen went one bet­ter in 2015, scoop­ing not only the Man­u­fac­tur­ers’ ti­tle but also the Driv­ers’ (Sébastien Ogier) and Co-driv­ers’ (Julien In­gras­sia) ti­tles in one event.

Last year wel­comed Ken­nards Hire as a nam­ing rights spon­sor and was a land­mark year in more ways than one.

A city-based ac­tion at­trac­tion re­turned for the first time since 2014 with the spec­tac­u­lar Des­ti­na­tion NSW Su­per Special Stage on Coffs Habour’s Jetty Fore­shore.

Pic­tures of rally cars in ac­tion against the har­bour and ocean back­drop were seen around the world on live tele­vi­sion, while spec­ta­tors en­joyed a thrilling ex­pe­ri­ence up-close.

The rally re­sult was 1 An­dreas Mikkelsen, 2 Sébastien Ogier, and 3 Thierry Neuville.

But it was a rally tinged with nos­tal­gia, as Volk­swa­gen Mo­tor­sport made its WRC swan­song af­ter an­nounc­ing its with­drawal from the se­ries just be­fore Aus­tralia.

PHOTO: @WORLD ME­DIA AGENCY

ITAL­IAN JOB: FIA World Rally Cham­pi­onship 2017 – WRC Italy Sardegna (ITA).

PHOTO: @WORLD ME­DIA AGENCY

PIT STOP: FIA World Rally Cham­pi­onship 2017 – WRC Catalunya (SPA).

PHOTO: RALLY AUS­TRALIA

GREAT BRITS: El­fyn Evans (GBR), Daniel Bar­rit (GBR) per­form dur­ing FIA World Rally Cham­pi­onship in Dee­side, Great Bri­tain.

PHOTO: RALLY AUS­TRALIA

PARK IT: Ser­vice park dur­ing the FIA World Rally Cham­pi­onship 2017 in Jy­vaskyla, Fin­land on July 28, 2017.

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