RUMOURS SWIRLING: New Zealand are keen to pinch the Coffs Harbour leg of the World Rally Championship in 2020.
RUMOURS SWIRLING: New Zealand are keen to pinch the Coffs Harbour leg of the World Rally Championship in 2020. Trevor Veale

New Zealand intent on stealing our rally

MOTORSPORT: Rally Australia have dismissed reports New Zealand is lining up to pinch the Coffs Harbour leg of the World Rally Championship next year.

Rally New Zealand chairman Peter Johnston has been vocal in his desire to stage a WRC event in 2020, but Rally Australia believe the coverage surrounding the Kiwis' bid is a media beat-up which rears its head regularly.

"Rally Australia believe nothing like this is the case and we are continuing negotiations with the WRC to retain the event into the future,” A spokesman said.

Johnston recently told New Zealand website www.stuff.co.nz the organisation is in negotiations with the WRC and Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development (Ateed) to bring the event to the country.

The story suggested the WRC are unhappy with the Australian round being at Coffs Harbour and want it held in a place with a higher profile.

The Rally New Zealand was last held as a WRC event in 2012.

The report claims the NZ governing body are "some way down the road with their negotiations for its return”.

"We're hopeful of having it back in 2020,” Johnston said.

"The WRC promoters aren't keen to go back to Coffs Harbour, so they are thinking that maybe there's an opportunity for New Zealand. We're still actively right on it at the moment.

"It would be for one year and we've got a lot of support from Ateed.

"The New Zealand general public are desperate to have it back, but we are looking for a sponsor and we have got Australia trying to retain the event for 2020, so we'll see what happens.”

Ateed's head of major events Stuart Turner told Stuff New Zealand's most populous city would be the perfect destination for the rally if they were to wrangle the leg off Australia.

"Auckland is always looking for ways to bring world-class events to the region, and a World Rally Championship event would present a very exciting addition,” Turner said.

"We would welcome the opportunity to host the world's best drivers and to showcase Auckland internationally.

"Auckland is very proud of its history and interest in motorsport, having previously hosted World Rally Championship events and the annual Supercars Championship event, which regularly attracts tens of thousands of people every year.

"The Australians are fighting like crazy to retain the event there, but it would be wonderful to have it in New Zealand.

"That's easier said than done and we're ready, we've got all the roads, we've got everything planned, we have good support but we are after a naming rights sponsor.”

The rally is being held from November 14-17 in Coffs Harbour this year.



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