Plan to host yearly rally
RALLY Australia (RA) wants its event to run on the Tweed every year, and a restructure of the World Rally Championships (WRC) could allow it to happen.
Federation International de la Automobile (FIA), the governing body of international motor sport, is currently conducting a review of the WRC which could see it expanded and allow the controversial Repco Rally Australia become an annual event.
RA chairman Alan Evans yesterday told the Tweed Daily News he would welcome a chance to expand the rally.
“I can say this, we would certainly put in submissions to hold the event annually if the opportunity presented itself, but the contract we have entered into states the rally will be held on a bi-ennial basis,” Mr Evans said.
He said the FIA was looking at growing the WRC, but would not comment on how likely it was to happen.
“Our present agreement is for every two years, but if the opportunity presented itself to hold the event every year we would welcome it.”
Meanwhile, RA is planning a Targa Tasmania style rally for the Northern Rivers region to run in conjunction with Speed On Tweed this year.
Although a government-legislated review of last year’s event is not yet complete, Mr Evans said he had received “overwhelming” support since it finished, and said international cars would return in 2011.
He said the significant economic impact the event brought to the region had secured much of the support, with some businesses experiencing their best day of trading ever.
“People were wanting to see what the event was like and the support has been overwhelming, apart from a small, vocal minority.”
“The event is well supported by the community and we intend to stick around there for a long time.”
Protest groups which were vocally opposed to a rally in the Northern Rivers will be further antagonised by plans to expand the event.
The No Rally Group and Kyogle’s Seventh Generation were among the fiercest critics.
“The arguments against one rally hold the same if there is more than one rally,” Seventh Generation spokesman Peter Lanyon said.
“The organisation of people against the rally will be of higher standard and broader base by the next event, and should RA hold it every year there will be even greater opposition.”
Neither Minister for State and Regional Development Ian MacDonald, nor Events NSW would comment on the possibility of Rally Australia expanding, though Tweed MP Geoff Provest said he had heard senior ministers discussing the possibility.
“My stance has always been that local people need a right to have a say about the rally,” Mr Provest said.
Mr MacDonald’s office said the review and public consultation would get under way soon.
Public meetings will be held in Murwillumbah on February 2 and Kyogle on February 3 at each council’s chambers.