THE FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) will return to the Coffs Coast on September 12-15 next year.

Confirmation of the date by the Federation de l'Automobile World Motor Sport Council in Paris yesterday means preparations for the event will now begin in earnest.

Rally Australia, last staged in September 2011, will be round 10 on the 2013 WRC calendar.

It will star drivers of extraordinary talent in action through more than 300 kilometres of beautiful and rugged countryside in the Coffs Harbour, Nambucca, Bellingen and Clarence Valley areas.

The spectacle is expected to draw thousands of fans to trackside vantage points, plus an estimated cumulative international television audience of 50 million people.

Destination NSW estimates Rally Australia 2011 generated a net economic impact of over $12 million for the local region.

Rally Australia Chairman Ben Rainsford said the announcement was the official signal to step up the rally planning at local level.

"Now we can push ahead with the task of bringing to the Coffs Coast the world's most challenging motor sport competition and drivers representing major car brands including Citroen, Ford, Mini, Volkswagen and hopefully even the newest entrant announced yesterday, Hyundai," he said.

"With the benefit of our experience in 2011, we intend not only to stage an even better event, including a number of enhancements for spectators, but also to deliver greater benefits to the community through tourism and the development of local staff and officials."

News of the 2013 Rally Australia was welcomed also by Mayor of Coffs Harbour City Council, Councillor Denise Knight.

"This is fantastic news for the Coffs Harbour community and our local economy," she said.

"It proves we are now seen, without question, as a world-class destination."

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