THE organisers behind Rally Australia on the Coffs Coast in September are pitching a bid for the FIA World Rally Championships to return to the region again next year.
Heads of the national body are sewing up support and conducting discussions with a number of organisations before the FIA World Motor Sports Council votes on the 2012 calendar of events at the end of the month.
At this stage the region lays claim to this year’s WRC round and the power- broking is under way to secure hosting rights for back-to-back events.
Rally Australia and CAMS representatives met Jean Todt, president of the world motor sport governing body, the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile, when he visited Australia this week.
They advised Mr Todt the rally, now in its 21st year, has the unequivocal support of key stakeholders, including both major NSW political parties and local councils.
Rally Australia chairman Ben Rainsford said although the event was not included in the 2012 draft WRC calendar, he remained confident of achieving a solution that would see it go ahead.
“Speculation about the 2012 WRC calendar is certainly premature, with the World Motor Sport Council having deferred its decision until the end of this month,” Mr Rainsford said.
“While planning for the 2011 Rally Australia on September 8 to 11 is progressing rapidly, we are also in active negotiations about 2012 and an annual place on the WRC calendar.
“Rally Australia’s move to a new home on the Coffs Coast of NSW has received an overwhelming welcome from the local population, businesses and authorities.
“Combine this with the fact the Coffs Coast is one of the traditional homes of Australian rallying and has hosted successful international events already, and we are assured of staging a sporting spectacle next September that more than justifies our place on the WRC calendar into the future.”
MT Rainsford pointed to the previous success of Rally Australia, which ran in Western Australia between 1988 and 2006, as a model rally aficionados want to see in place long-term on the Coffs Coast.
“We now need the continuity of an annual event in 2012 and beyond to capitalise on the greater opportunities available in our new East Coast home to grow the event and the WRC’s following in this region of the world,” he said.
The FIA will meet to plan next year’s calendar in Paris in a fortnight.
There are 174 days and counting until the world’s leading rally drivers arrive on the Coffs Coast.
Community consultation discussing the proposed stage locations has been held across the region, with the routes to be confirmed publicly in coming weeks.
Local residents have also this week been invited to play a personal part in the rally. Applications are open for up to 2000 volunteer jobs.
“All big motorsport events, whether it’s the World Rally Championship, the Australian Grand Prix, the Bathurst 1000 or similar competitions around the world, traditionally rely on large volunteer forces to help run them,” Rally Australia general manager Michael Masi said.