Rally Australia not targeting Sydney switch
Rally Australia will stay put in Coffs Harbour for the foreseeable future, with no plans in the works to find a base closer to Sydney.
The event set to be run in the Coffs Coast region for a sixth year this weekend, having found a new stable home in the New South Wales regional centre after being dropped by the West Australian state government of the mid-2000s.
However during its stay there have been rumblings from team personnel about a a desired move closer to Sydney, with the picturesque Coffs Harbour townsite sitting more than 500 kilometres north of the New South Wales capital.
While that may be a target for the teams, event organisers aren't currently not looking at a move away from Coffs Harbour – particularly with a new three-year deal for government funding which is understood to be at least partly hinged on regional tourism.
"Regions are a big part of the government's agenda, and certainly having tourism attractions in the regions is an ideal thing," said Rally Australia Chairman Ben Rainsford.
"And rally is a good fit for that."
According to Rainsford the desire to stay put in Coffs isn't purely based on government support. He says a move closer to Sydney would bring unwelcome problems in terms of local residents, something that has been an issue for Supercars as its moved to piece together next weekend's inaugural Newcastle 500.
"Moving it closer to Sydney brings a whole heap of challenges we probably wouldn't want," he said.
"Look at what's happening with [Supercars] in Newcastle and the residents there. All they're doing is talking down things, rather than talking about the positive things associated with motorsport. We don't want to do that.
"We like being here because we can have a sustainable position with the environment, and we don't have residents issues. The closer we got the Sydney, we'd have to rebuild all that. We'd get into more populated areas where the density precludes it.
"You could do short bursts, and we've often looked at doing a Super Special down there, but if you tried doing a compliant Special Stage rally there you'd do your nuts in.
"If you're a team and you thought it was too far away you would lobby. And it is expensive for the teams, because you've got to have the flyaway kit as well.
"Having said that, if you want to win the World Rally Championship you've got to the far reaches of the world. You can't just say I'm going to be European-centric, because otherwise it's a European Rally Championship."
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