Moving on?: Rally driver Sébastien Loeb takes on a stage of Repco Rally Australia through Byrrill Creek last year.
Moving on?: Rally driver Sébastien Loeb takes on a stage of Repco Rally Australia through Byrrill Creek last year. Motorsport Photography

Online support for 'NSW rally'

THOUSANDS of Rally Australia fans have flocked to social networking website Facebook to voice their support for the event in New South Wales, but not so much for the Northern Rivers.

More than 2150 people have joined the “Support the World Rally Championship (WRC) in New South Wales Australia” group.

But despite listing the group location as Murwillumbah, at least one of the page's administrators is certain the multi-million dollar event will be pulled from the Tweed and Kyogle shires and relocated to Coffs Harbour for next year's event.

For the pro-rally crowd, their support will mean more now than ever before as the World Motor Sport Council, a body of the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), prepares to meet in Paris later tonight AEST to discuss the future of Rally Australia on the WRC calendar.

The internet group was formed by two past Tweed rally supporters, former Byrrill Creek resident and rally photographer Nigel Raynard and previous Murwillumbah resident Chris Gio Giovine.

Both had their own support groups before combining memberships.

“Our group is there to support the rally wherever it goes, although it seems pretty clear now that it's going to be in Coffs Harbour,” Mr Raynard said.

“I've already booked my accommodation there for next year.

“If the Northern Rivers does lose the event, then we will be throwing away a huge opportunity for future generations, but as long as it is in the region then we will ultimately benefit.”

Mr Raynard, who now lives in Ballina, said the majority of the group's 2000-plus supporters were from the Tweed and Kyogle shires.

“We've tried hard to keep the group open to just local people and to those who attended the rally,” he said.

Yesterday, the Tweed Daily News confirmed that Coffs Harbour, on the New South Wales Mid-North Coast, was a back-up plan should the rally fail to return to the Tweed.

In contrast to the pro-rally Facebook group, organised anti-rally groups the Tweed-based No Rally Group and the Kyogle-based 7th Generation have 300 registered members in the community.

No Rally Group spokes-woman Andrea Vickers said the pro-rally Facebook group was an unfair representation of the Northern Rivers community.

“I would bet only a small percentage of those people are from the Northern Rivers,” Ms Vickers said.

“I would take it with a big grain of salt. It's very easy to just click a button and join up.

“I don't think many of those people are qualified to say the rally should be held there.”

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