Rally 'will return'
ORGANISERS of the Repco Rally Australia say it is unlikely the event will be moved away from the Northern Rivers, despite disruptions from protesters forcing the cancellation of two stages at the weekend.
Citroen driver Sebastien Loeb, who took out second place to Ford's Mikko Hirvonen, reportedly told the media that organisers might have to consider moving the event, after the stages were cancelled due to protesters throwing rocks at the competition vehicles at Byrrill Creek.
“If it is really like that and if it is a lot of people that are not happy to see us then I think we have to move somewhere else because we can understand that they don't like rally,” Mr Loeb was reported as saying.
“It's not for me to decide, but I think they have to think about it because it was not so nice to see.”
But chairman of the Rally Australia Board Alan Evans said the meaning of Mr Loeb's comments, and those of other drivers, may have been misinterpreted.
“Look, I've talked to a number of drivers and you've got to remember for some of the drivers English is not their first language... we have to be careful how we interpret their comments,” Mr Evans said.
“Certainly from my perspective, talking to the crews they enjoyed the event and they want to come back. They get protesters overseas as well.
“This was a different one ... (but) that's the beauty of democracy.”
Mr Evans said there would be a “big push” for the World Rally Championship event to return to Tweed and Kyogle shires in 2011.
“It's been a magnificent event. Rally Australia will be back in 2011 and it will be an even better event.”
The number of ticket buyers and pass holders who attended over the four days is said to have reached more than 70,000. The number does not account for officials, media and spectators watching the event from private residences.
“It was an extremely successful weekend,” Mr Evans said.
“The overwhelming support of the community was extremely gratifying and we have been getting excellent reports from local businesses about how well they did.
“We wanted the people of Tweed and Kyogle, plus visitors from else- where in New South Wales, interstate and overseas to see the World Rally cars, and they turned out in big numbers.”
The Tweed and Kyogle shires have been awarded the Abu Dhabi “Spirit of the Rally” award, which recognises an outstanding feat of leadership, integrity, respect or teamwork.
The award, created by the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA), is presented at each World Rally Championship (WRC).