Rally stay­ing put de­spite dis­plea­sure

The Coffs Coast Advocate - - SPORT - SAM FLANAGAN [email protected]­s­coas­tad­vo­

MO­TOR SPORT: Rally Aus­tralia is re­main­ing com­mit­ted to Coffs Har­bour for 2019 de­spite cham­pion Se­bas­tian Ogier and top man­u­fac­turer Toyota voic­ing their dis­plea­sure at rac­ing in “the mid­dle of nowhere” for the fi­nal round of the World Rally Cham­pi­onship.

Se­nior ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of Rally Aus­tralia Wayne Kenny said they don’t feel any need to leave Coffs at this stage.

“No (we don’t feel pres­sure), Rally Aus­tralia this year at­tracted a to­tal at­ten­dance of 83,155; 31 per cent more than in 2017,” Kenny said.

“This was a record num­ber and we’ll con­tinue to strive to in­crease it in or­der to de­liver di­rect eco­nomic ben­e­fits to the Coffs com­mu­nity.”

Though Kenny said the event would def­i­nitely be in Coffs for 2019, he noted the gov­ern­ing body of the sport in Aus­tralia have tested the wa­ters to see if other re­gions could hold a stage or two.

“It’s pru­dent for event or­gan­is­ers to be aware of fall­back op­tions, so we have over the past cou­ple of years rou­tinely sur­veyed the Hunter re­gion and Syd­ney’s outer-west,” he said.

“Nei­ther of­fered the re­quired com­bi­na­tion of suit­able rally and ac­cess roads with prox­im­ity to the rally base and suf­fi­cient ac­com­mo­da­tion, as does the Coffs Coast.

“While Rally Aus­tralia has re­searched po­ten­tial al­ter­na­tive lo­ca­tions, this has not been with the in­ten­tion of leav­ing the Coffs Coast.”

A spokesman for the Coffs Har­bour City Coun­cil said the event in­jects heav­ily into the Coffs econ­omy so los­ing it would hurt the re­gion.

“Rally Aus­tralia has ad­vised that its di­rect spend as a re­sult of the event on the Coffs Coast is $3.2 mil­lion,” the coun­cil spokesman said.

“This pro­duces an over­all eco­nomic ben­e­fit for the Coffs Har­bour Lo­cal Govern­ment Area of $12.2 mil­lion, in­clud­ing $7 mil­lion into the vis­i­tor econ­omy. The size of the spend and ben­e­fit is there­fore very sig­nif­i­cant.

“We look for­ward to again host­ing the sea­son fi­nale of the FIA World Rally Cham­pi­onships here in Coffs Har­bour in 2019,” the coun­cil spokesman said.

Photo: Trevor Veale

STAY­ING PUT: Rally Aus­tralia will stand by Coffs Har­bour de­spite crit­i­cism of the event by prom­i­nent driv­ers and man­u­fac­tur­ers.

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