Thursday, August 24, 2006

Rally Oz has found a new home...

And it isn't in Western Australia.

The beureaucratic mess that is the Australian Rally Comission has finally come to an agreement with a promoter to stage Rally Australia for 5 years from 2007.

After more than 12 months of speculation on the future of Australia’s Round of the World Rally Championship it can be revealed exclusively that the event has found a new home in Queensland, to be based within 50 kilometres of Brisbane. received confirmation earlier this afternoon that CAMS has sent word to the FIA that it has secured a long-term agreement with a local promoter.

The future of Rally Australia was originally thrown into turmoil when it was unceremoniously dumped by the West Australian Government in early 2005, the organisers and local Government sighting return on investment as the key factor in its decision to discard the event. Under the existing contract with CAMS the event was obliged to continue to run for both 2005, and 2006 unless a new home was found in the interim.

While speculation and rumour have abounded during that time, with Queensland and ACT consistently regarded as the front-runners, specific updates or details have been few and far between.

Australian Rally Commission Chairman Garry Connelly had indicated earlier this year that he was hopeful of an Easter announcement, however with that date coming and going Connelly remained quietly confident whenever questioned on the topic that a new location for the event would be found.

The confirmation this afternoon that the event will be based in the South-East corner of Queensland comes as a significant boost to the sport. With details still relatively light on, it can be revealed that the new event will run from 2007 onwards, although this is subject to FIA calendaring, and that the current agreement is set for 5-years with two further 5-year options.

The most intriguing detail though concerns the precise location of the base for the rally and the proposed stages. The statement delivered to specified a new, permanent facility within 50 kilometres of Brisbane; however actual details are still to be announced.

It has long been assumed that the event would utilize forestry stages in and around and Sunshine Coast’s Glass House Mountains. Therefore it is within reason that the event could be staged from of one of Brisbane’s outer major centers, for instance Caboolture, which would place it well within easy drive of both the CBD and the Sunshine Coast forests.

Full details are expected to be delivered to the rallying world’s media at the final Rally Australia in Western Australia in late October.

All well and good. It at least keeps a round of the WRC in Australia. And it might just provide a nice excuse to go to Queensland each year for a holiday. If they stage it at the right time, you might even be able to take in another event (Bathurst, Indy, F1) whilst on the same trip.

But isn't there rules about having a round of the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship before a WRC event can be held on those stages?

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