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RALLY Australia has announced a total attendance of almost 55,000 for last weekend’s 10th round of the FIA World Rally Championship on the Coffs Coast.

The audited provisional number of 54,736 includes all ticket and pass holders plus thousands who packed the free start and finish ceremonies in the centre of Coffs Harbour and the competitors’ service park.

Event Chairman Ben Rainsford said he was delighted with the attendance figure for the 10-13 September event and overwhelmingly favourable reactions of spectators, competitors, teams, officials and media.

“The attendance figure is slightly up on 2014, even though we didn’t have a city-based super special stage this time, and we expect there will be a further small increase when we can finalise an estimate for the spectator point at the Saturday night Valla stage – it’s difficult to count heads in the dark but we know there was a big crowd there,” he said.

“But more importantly than numbers, Coates Hire Rally Australia was a great critical success that gives us a springboard to deliver an even better spectacle in the future.

“We have signed a contract with the WRC promoters for 2016 and 2017 and look forward to hearing very soon if our bid to host the season finale next year has been approved. Having the final round would bring significant boosts in tourism attendance and media coverage and allow us to showcase the WRC at a planned gala event in Sydney.”

Mr Rainsford said that despite controversy over the running of one eight-kilometre stage at night, WRC drivers including new three-time World Champion Sebastien Ogier had rated the Rally Australia roads as among the best in the world.

“Sebastien Ogier, Kris Meeke, Andreas Mikkelsen, Thierry Neuville, Hayden Paddon and Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari all praised the Coffs Coast roads, especially the long Nambucca stage. We were determined to provide a course to truly test the talents of the best rally drivers in the world and by their comments it appears we succeeded.

“There was also a buzz around this Rally Australia like never before. The rally car crews, team members and visiting international WRC officials all experienced the enthusiasm of our spectators and local community and have returned home to Europe with very positive impressions of the event and the Coffs Coast.

“As always, there will be things we aim to improve next year and we’ll consider these in our debriefings over coming weeks.”

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Chris Nixon

Chris Nixon is Media Manager for Kennards Hire Rally Australia.