Coffs slammed for being too small to host WRC final
PRESSURE is building to move Rally Australia away from Coffs Harbour.
Federation Internationale de l'Automobile rally director Jarmo Mahonen scathed Coffs Harbour for taking the final round of the World Rally Championship out of Europe.
"Let's be honest we are a European-based sport and we need to finish the season in that time-zone,” Mr Mahonen told Autosport.
"The good thing about this event is that it's very safe - because there are no spectators!”
Contrary to his claims, Kennards Hire Rally Australia's attendance has grown each year since 2011.
This year 63,415 people attended the rally and associated events over the four days it was in Coffs - an increase of more than 6000 compared to 2016.
WRC promoter Olivier Ciesla said Australia was an important destination for the championship but the number of people in Coffs Harbour was a concern
"Coffs delivers everything we need from the sporting requirement and we get a warm reception from the people, but it's no secret that we would like to reach out to more people,” he said.
But managing director of British-based 2017 manufacturer's and driver's champion outfit M-Sport Malcolm Wilson praised Coffs Harbour.
"The whole town gets behind the event and we are all made to feel extremely welcome year after year.
"If that weren't enough, we regularly hear the drivers commenting that these stages are some of the best in the world.
"With the teams having to travel long distances from Europe, it's not easy to match the huge entry numbers that we see at some of the bigger European events.
"We all need to work hard to ensure the event stays relevant and exciting, but a move to another part of Australia isn't necessarily the answer.”
Rally Australia said it was aware of some of the promoter and team's opinions and would take them into consideration for 2019.
Coffs Harbour will host the 2018 Rally Australia over November 15-18, when it will once again be the closing round of the WRC.
The 2018 WRC will rev off in January with the historic Rallye Monte-Carlo and visit 13 countries.