Rally Australia hub “within a block of the heart of” Coffs Harbour

Tenth round of 2013 World Rally Championship takes place in Australia in September. This year, Australia is home to the “down under” round of the WRC, taking over from last year’s host, New Zealand.

Australian event is one of the classics in the calendar (not so much due to age, but the character and high praise it received from competitors and media), although it has seen fair share of drama over the last couple of years. Originally run around the city of Perth in Western Australia, event was supposed to move to Gold Coast, Queensland in 2008, but it did not run due to organizational problems. In 2009 rally was scheduled to return to WRC calendar with a new base in New South Wales, yet more drama ensued and in 2010 Rally Australia was removed from Northern Rivers region after loud protests from the local community. In 2011, Australian round of the WRC took place around the new base in Coffs Harbour, coastal town in the northern part of New South Wales.

For this year, organizers decided to bring the event closer to public, with rally hub situated “withing a block of the heart” of the hosting city. Below you can read official press release.

Rally Australia is to locate its hub for the FIA World Rally Championship near the centre of Coffs Harbour, delivering fans an exciting, up-close experience when the world’s fastest drivers and cars visit next September.

A new Super Special Stage using a velodrome in Brelsford Park for match races over three nights will be the centerpiece of a Rally Hub during the 12-15 September event and in the preceding days when teams from overseas and Australia set up their service garages.

The finish podium, a stage, souvenir and food outlets, corporate hospitality suites and the international Media Centre also will be part of the complex.

The move will allow organizers to raise the profile of the event by bringing it to within a block of the heart of the New South Wales coastal city.

Event Clerk of Course Adrian Stafford said positive support from the Coffs Coast community gave organisers the confidence to move from the initially-proposed Jetty Foreshores site.

“The new Super Special Stage design can allow match racing with two cars starting together in a pursuit format on opposite sides of the former velodrome tarmac circuit in Brelsford Park,” Mr Stafford said.

“Taking the stage into the city precinct also allows us to significantly improve spectator access and create a truly carnival atmosphere.

“The beautiful eucalypt trees backdrop will tell the huge TV audience around the world that this is Australia and the grassy banks will provide fantastic viewing.

“The plan also enables us to bring the Service Park alongside the city Stage and create what I believe will be one of most exciting Rally Hubs in the world.

“WRC teams will be able to showcase their engineering excellence to fans, who can wander between the service areas and the racing Stage. Even the Ceremonial Start in the city mall is now only one block away.”

Event Manager David Catchpole said the organisers would continue community engagement to ensure any potential disruptions from the event were minimised.

“We also intend to retain some promotional activity in the Jetty area to highlight the beautiful natural environment of the Coffs Coast,” he said.

“The community’s strong support for Rally Australia will not only assist our plans for 2013 but also enhance our bid to the Federation de l’Automobile to make it an annual event.”

Mr Catchpole said organisers could now move ahead with confidence to the detailed planning phase knowing the new Rally Hub provided a great support base for traditional rally stages in the surrounding State Forests.

“Forests Corporation NSW are providing information and support to allow us to create an even more compact overall route at the same time as increasing our presence in nearby towns,” he said.

“We expect to make some exciting announcements about spectating opportunities in the rally forest stages.”

Mr Stafford and Mr Catchpole said Rally Australia had made significant planning progress in the past few months.

A meeting with the NSW Government All Agency group this week highlighted the support the event received from many areas of government, enabling greater potential for financial and promotional benefits to the Coffs Coast region and NSW.

“With the September date now just over six months away, we are ahead of our planning schedule, which will ensure the highest possible standard of event,” Mr Stafford said.

Source: Rally Australia