THE FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) will return to the New South Wales Coffs Coast for the 22nd Rally Australia on 12-15 September next year.
Confirmation of the date by the Federation de l’Automobile World Motor Sport Council in Paris yesterday means preparations for the event will now begin in earnest.
The WRC is renowned as the world’s most challenging motorsport championship, taking competitors in highly-developed versions of popular passenger cars on a journey through extremes of weather and road conditions in 13 countries.
Rally Australia, last staged in September 2011, will be round 10 on the 2013 WRC calendar.
It will star drivers of extraordinary talent in action through more than 300 kilometres of beautiful and rugged countryside in the Coffs Harbour, Nambucca, Bellingen and Clarence Valley areas.
The spectacle is expected to draw thousands of fans to trackside vantage points, plus an estimated cumulative international television audience of 50 million people.
The State Minister for Tourism and Major Events, George Souris, said today confirmation by the FIA that the prestigious international motor sport event would again be staged in and around Coffs Harbour was great news for regional NSW.
“The NSW Government, through Destination NSW, will look to build on the success of the 2011 event which attracted more than 13,000 visitors to the Coffs Coast, generated more than 64,000 bed nights and injected around $9 million visitor expenditure into the local economy,” Mr Souris said.
“Overall, Destination NSW estimates that Rally Australia 2011 generated a net economic impact of over $12 million for the Coffs Harbour region.”
Rally Australia Chairman Ben Rainsford said the announcement was the official signal to step up the rally planning at local level.
“Destination NSW’s support in securing the event will ensure NSW and the Coffs Coast region are the focus of the WRC’s massive global following,” Mr Rainsford said.
“Now we can push ahead with the task of bringing to the Coffs Coast the world’s most challenging motorsport competition and drivers representing major car brands including Citroen, Ford, Mini, Volkswagen and hopefully even the newest entrant announced yesterday, Hyundai.
“While we have almost a year until the 2013 Rally Australia, we have a great deal of work to do and are excited by the challenge.
“With the benefit of our experience in 2011, we intend not only to stage an even better event, including a number of enhancements for spectators, but also to deliver greater benefits to the community through tourism and the development of local staff and officials.”
Coffs Harbour MP Andrew Fraser said securing the Rally Australia event would not only benefit the local area but also would have flow-on effects for the State economy.
“This is another great example of how Destination NSW is working toward achieving the NSW Government’s target of doubling overnight visitor expenditure in the State by 2020,” Mr Fraser said.
News of the 2013 Rally Australia was welcomed also by the Mayor of Coffs Harbour City Council, Councillor Denise Knight.
“This is fantastic news for the Coffs Harbour community and our local economy,” Cr Knight said.
“It proves that we are now seen – without question – as a world-class destination.
“The 2011 World Rally Championship on the Coffs Coast was a major success from a sporting, tourism and economic perspective and I’m positive that the 2013 event will be even better.”
Although fans will have to wait almost a year for the return of the WRC stars, top-class rallying will return to the Coffs Coast with the Snake Racing Coffs Coast Rally, round five of the Bosch Australian Rally Championship, on 12-14 October.
The event will be used to review stage locations and train officials for Rally Australia.
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