PHOTO: Big crowds over two days packed Rally Australia’s feature attraction, the Destination NSW Super Special Stage on the Coffs Harbour beachfront (Jeremy Rogers pic)
COFFS COAST (NSW) – New attractions including the beachfront Destination NSW Super Special Stage, a strong entry list and a new calendar slot helped boost attendance at Kennards Hire Rally Australia to more than 57,000 this year.
The rally on 17-20 November was the closing round of the 2016 FIA World Rally Championship and was won by Volkswagen Motorsport driver Andreas Mikkelsen of Norway.
Organisers announced today estimated total attendance of 57,131 across all days of the event, including ticket and pass holders plus thousands of fans who packed the free start and finish ceremonies in the centre of Coffs Harbour and the competitors’ service park.
The number is more than 3000 up on 2015 attendance.
“This was the best Rally Australia since the event moved to New South Wales in 2009,” Rally Australia Chairman Ben Rainsford said.
“Undoubtedly the greatest attraction was the WRC itself and the opportunity to see the world’s fastest rally drivers in a breathtaking display of skill and bravery. We had the biggest WRC entry list at Rally Australia since 2009.
“The Destination NSW Super Special Stage on Coffs Harbour’s Jetty foreshore was tailor-made for spectators with its location, timing and features and they came in their thousands on Friday and Saturday.
“The WRC drivers and photographers loved it too. The images sent around the world of rally cars against the harbour and ocean backdrop were priceless promotion for the Coffs Coast.
“The new Raceway Super Special Stage at Raleigh and the other spectator locations around the course, capped by Sunday’s Wedding Bells Power Stage finale, were also extremely popular.
“Crowds at the spectator points were noticeably bigger and wherever you went across the rally the atmosphere of fun and excitement was almost tangible. As before, this was complemented by very enthusiastic support from the host community.”
Mr Rainsford said the outcome was helped by the rally’s new calendar position at the end of the 13-round season, which ensured there was no competition from other major sports events. It also allowed Rally Australia to host the inaugural WRC Gala in Sydney the night after the event, providing a colourful finale to the season.
While attendance increased, Kennards Hire Rally Australia also achieved benchmark social media popularity. Its Facebook page attracted more than 103,000 Likes, ranking third among all events on the 2016 WRC calendar, while total reach across all social media and digital platforms during event week reached 2,444,218.
Mr Rainsford said the 2016 rally’s success provided a solid base for future events.
The date for the 2017 Kennards Hire Rally Australia is expected to be confirmed later this week after a meeting of the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile, the world motorsport governing body, announces the WRC season calendar.