Coffs will be in world spotlight
COFFS HARBOUR is due to stage its biggest event ever next September when it will host the Australian round of the FIA World Rally championship.
After weeks of speculation Cr Keith Rhoades announced on September 30 the Paris organisers had decided to move the rally from the Tweed to the Coffs Harbour region.
“After Formula One, the WRC is the most important four-wheel championship in the world,” Cr Rhoades said.
“It came to Northern NSW in 2009 and was hugely successful – as well as the worldwide audience, the race attracted more than 80,000 fans to rally stages and free events.”
The event will place Coffs Harbour region in the global spotlight with images being broadcast to 186 countries and a global audience of 53 million viewers. Local business will buoyed by a projected $17 million injection.
Local ‘Mr Rally’ and former national racer, Martin Quinn, said the heavily forested Coffs Harbour track would offer more corners per kilometre than any other track in the world plus the area has 40 years experience in running rallies.
“This is massive – it is a reward to the local car club for their years of hard work,” Mr Quinn said.
The news of the decision came as a shock to previous hosts Tweed and Kyogle councils.
Kyogle councillor Ross Brown, who was mayor during the rally in 2009, was livid at the way the community was treated by the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport (CAMS).
“There is no doubt this decision was made some time ago – the way we have been told shows a lack of respect for the community,” Mr Brown said.
“We invested considerable time, money and emotion into the event and I believe we should get some compensation.”
CAMS said it was moving the event because of action by pro- testers at the 2009 event, which forced the abandonment of a stage and restrictions on the use of certain stages through environmentally sensitive areas by the independent review tabled earlier this year in parliament.
The move also meant the area would no longer receive $9 million in NSW government funding through Industry and Investment NSW. The Northern Rivers Council had received confirmation of the funding only days before the announcement.
The chairman of Rally-Australia Alan Evans apparently resigned as a result of the CAMS’ decision.