PHOTO: Fans are ready to welcome back the fastest rally drivers in the world (Jeremy Rogers pic)
COFFS COAST (NSW) – The world’s fastest rally drivers and their cars have arrived in town as organisers race to complete final preparations for Coates Hire Rally Australia, which starts on Thursday.
While the drivers in the FIA World Rally Championship caught up on sleep yesterday after their flights from Europe, crew members began to create the Hi-Tec Oils Service Park at C.ex Coffs International Stadium, where teams will be based through to the finish next Sunday afternoon.
Workshops, service bays, offices, reconnaissance cars, spare parts and even dining rooms were unpacked from their international shipping containers into an instant village ready to welcome thousands of fans.
Event organisers worked on the adjacent Hyundai Super Special Stage and ?? rural Special Stage spectator points.
“By Thursday we’ll be ready to stage another spectacular Coates Hire Rally Australia,” Event Manager David Catchpole said.
“Construction of the service park super special stage, event headquarters at Opal Cove Resort, media centre, special stage rally villages and other facilities is on schedule.
“After the recent heavy rain, the ground has dried out well and the Coffs Coast countryside and forests are looking lush and green. It will be a beautiful environment in which to enjoy a rally.
“The final touch is the arrival of the drivers. All the great names are here, including Jari-Matti Latvala, Thierry Neuville, Mads Ostberg and Australia’s Chris Atkinson, and I believe the course we have designed will set them a great competitive challenge which spectators will find enthralling.”
WRC drivers will attend some promotional activities today before undertaking day-long course reconnaissance on Tuesday and Wednesday.
They will drive their cars for the first time next Thursday morning at a non-competitive shakedown session before the afternoon’s Coates Hire Rally Show and start ceremonies. WRC drivers with their cars will attend the rally show from 4pm to meet fans and sign autographs.
The first of 20 Special Stages covering 313 kilometres over three days starts at 9.18 am on Friday. The rally will come to town on Friday and Saturday nights for the spectacular Hyundai Super Special Stage incorporating the ARMOR ALL Shootout, adjacent to the Hi-Tec Oils Service Park.
Apart from the rally cars, entertainment highlights at the service park and super special stage will include an aerobatics show by the Red Bull stunt plane, an off road racing demonstration, Meet-the-Crews sessions on Friday and Saturday evenings, driver autographs at the team service bays, giant screens showing live stage coverage on Saturday and Sunday, souvenir sales and food and drink.