Bushfires force overhaul of final leg of World Rally Championship at Coffs Harbour

Organisers are scrambling to alter the WRC course and while a shortened rally is expected, they are confident the event will proceed in some form.

In their favour is the fact that Ott Tanak sealed the world title in the penultimate round in Spain, meaning Rally Australia is essentially only a four-day victory parade for the Estonian.

“Rally Australia’s thoughts are with the NSW community, especially the people who have lost loved ones, livelihoods and homes as a result of the fires in northern NSW,” the statement read.

“Public safety is our uppermost consideration in planning for Rally Australia on the Coffs Coast next week.

“Rally Australia is consulting with emergency services, authorities and the local community about the evolving situation.

“We still hope to stage the final round of the 2019 FIA World Rally Championship, although it may be on a significantly shortened course.”

Both the “Super Special Stage”, which takes place on the Coffs Harbour foreshore, and Raleigh International Raceway stage should go ahead unaffected.

Competitors who were due to compete in the Australian Rally Championship, Rally Australia Cup and the Rally Australia two-day events will instead participate in “demonstration” runs on the Super Special Stage and Raleigh Special Stage.

It could be the last time the event is held in northern NSW, with New Zealand replacing Australia on next year’s calendar and leaving Rally Australia to bid for a return in 2021.

Australia first hosted a WRC event in 1988 in Perth and was voted Rally of the year by teams in 1995, ’99 and 2000.

After the 2006 event, funding for the event was withdrawn by the Western Australia Tourism Commission before the rally returned to Australia in 2009 in Kingscliff, NSW, and then Coffs Harbour.


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