Australia to host WRC leg in 2014

Hayden Paddon and John Kennard in action. Photo / Honza Fronek
Hayden Paddon and John Kennard in action. Photo / Honza Fronek

Australia will again host a round of the World Rally Championships next year after New Zealand decided to withdraw its bid for the event while attempting to negotiate a new hosting model.

Rallying's world governing body, the FIA, released the calendar for the 2014 Championships on Sunday with Rally Australia listed to take place on the Coffs Coast of New South Wales state from September 11 to 14. The 2013 Rally Australia was won by Volkswagon's Sebastien Ogier when it was held at the same location two weeks ago.

Australia and New Zealand have recently staged a leg of the WRC in alternate years but New Zealand chose not to bid for the 2014 event. Rally New Zealand said it hoped to negotiate a new arrangement under which the nations would each stage the rally for three years in succession.

RNZ chairman Peter Johnston told New Zealand media the current model, under which Australia and New Zealand each staged the event for a year at a time, made it difficult to sustain the profile and interest in the event.

"The problem is this has just not worked," Johnston said. "The lack of continuity has significantly affected the commercial viability and our ability to resource the event with skilled personnel to a world class level.

"While the World Rally Championship promoters are focused on the short term, and are therefore not in a position to agree to the suggestion at this time, it has provided a platform for some constructive discussions.

"We hope this will lead to future WRC events in both Australia and New Zealand being run to a high standard and inspiring commercial partners, competitors and the public alike to support the event."

Johnston said the current year-about model made continuity difficult.

"So we have come up with the concept of each country staging the event for three years at a time," he said. "It is a fair time for sponsors to maximize branding and gain a return on their investment.

"We can build a solid marketing base to develop public interest and we can retain a high level of expertise to run the event.

"We are competing with other international venues in the WRC that receive significant central and local government support. We hope that this new structure would enable us to attract levels of government support that are in line with the international status of the event and the financial investment that the WRC enjoys around the globe."

Rally Australia chairman Ben Rainsford said the decision to award the hosting rights to Australia in 2014 would allow his organization to devote more resources to the rally.

"Knowing that we can turn around straight away on organizing 2014 means we can retain local staff, supply chains, logistical arrangements and potentially sponsors and put more time into improving the attractions for spectators," Rainsford said.

"As Australia's only other four-wheel world championship outside Formula 1, Rally Australia has a tremendous opportunity to become one of our biggest and most exciting motorsport festivals and to make an even bigger contribution to the Coffs Coast regional economy."

Rally Australia will be the 10th of 13 rounds in the 2014 championships.

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