Rally to show off coastline

SPECTATORS will be close to the action when the world’s fastest rally drivers roar around a track in Coffs Harbour during a special stage of next year’s FIA World Rally Australia.

A time trial on tar will see the action shift from the bush to the city.

The exact location of the stage is under wraps, but Rally Australia says it wants to see the course hug the coastline.

“This stage will be the showpiece event of the World Rally,” Rally Australia operations manager Ben Raggatt said.

“We want it held as close to the coast as possible, that way Coffs Harbour’s stunning coastline will be a major focus of the television footage broadcast to an estimated 56 million viewers worldwide.

“These stages are run on tarmac instead of dirt and the focus is on getting spectators as close to the action as possible.

It’s likely the stage will be held across consecutive days, with some drivers starting on the Thursday night, others the Friday night and the reminder of the field on the Saturday night.

During last year’s World Rally Australia in the Northern Rivers, the spectator stage was held at Murwillumbah on the same circuit as the Speed on the Tweed.

“Finer details of the stages are strictly confidential and are entirely set out by the clerk of the course awaiting approval from the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile, but we expect the locations of the stages will be made public in January/ February,” he said.

Homebush Motor Racing Authority chief executive Bryan Hardman said stages of the world rally would be held in the four local council areas of Clarence Valley, Coffs Harbour, Bellingen and Nambucca.

The State Government statutory racing authority is overseeing community consultations for the World Rally Australia on the Coffs Coast, September 8-11.

It is meeting with the local councils, rally stakeholders and government agencies, while Rally Australia is circulating letters to property owners informing them of proposed routes.

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