WRC publicity 'immeasurable'
IMAGINE you’re waiting at the traffic lights at one of Coffs Harbour’s main intersections in early September and one of the world’s finest rally drivers pulls up alongside you.
Rally Australia general manager Michael Masi said yesterday this scenario is a distinct possibility for many locals when a round of the World Rally Championship comes to the Coffs Coast from September 8 to 11.
“When the WRC was held in the Northern Rivers region in 2009 that was the main thing that struck locals,” Masi said at yesterday’s Chamber of Commerce breakfast at Novotel Pacific Bay Resort.
“So many of them couldn’t believe that they were waiting at the lights when a rally driver pulled up next to them with his helmet on as he was making his way to the start of the next stage.”
Masi’s address highlighted the fact that the 2009 event brought $16.9 million worth of direct economic benefit to the Northern Rivers region plus an ‘immeasurable’ amount of publicity through international media.
“One thing I’m sure of is that Coffs will be the epicentre of that,” he said.
Planning for the September event is well under way.
It was revealed yesterday that the northern end of the airport had been obtained to use as a service park for the drivers and their teams.
Coffs Harbour Racing Club has been secured as an international media centre while Opal Cove will be the administrative and corporate centre for the event.
Masi added that 350km of roads through the Clarence Valley, Nambucca Valley and Coffs Coast regions have been identified for competitive racing over the three days.
While not given the final tick of approval yet, Masi is confident that it won’t be long before motor sport’s governing body FIA gives the course the final thumbs up.
“Having gone through local consultation and provided the relevant ecological and environmental reports, one thing we still have to work through is putting the proposals into the teams and FIA for consultation and feedback,” he said.
“That’s still about a month off.
“I’m pretty confident the planning will go through and hopefully that tick of approval is just a formality.”