WRC linked to new South Australian event

SA has emerged as one of the main candidates to host Rally Australia should it return to the WRC calendar.

The event, which was mostly held recently at Coffs Harbor in New South Wales, has been absent from the calendar since 2019.

It had long been expected that bringing Australia back to the WRC calendar would require a new event, with Coffs unpopular with teams due to his distance from Sydney.

That new home could be Adelaide and the South Australian government is believed to be one of two states in contact with WRC officials.

“We are in two preliminary talks with government entities and we are making progress in our talks with both and we will see how things go,” WRC event director Simon Larkin confirmed to Autosport.

While he wouldn’t know which governments are in the mix, Larkin confirmed that the series will not be returning to New South Wales.

That was in response to a question about an earlier bid to bring the WRC to Bathurst, which was thwarted by COVID.

“No, New South Wales is not in the mix,” he said. “The option with Destination New South Wales has expired, so we are exploring elsewhere.”

Larkin also confirmed that 2025 is likely to be the earliest Australia returns to the calendar, with the bid effectively tied to New Zealand.

“2025 is the target, not before,” he said. “We are being quite practical and rational as we have a high demand for slots on the calendar.

“But Australasia, whether it’s Australia or New Zealand, are key targets for us right now. Talks are continuing with New Zealand as well.”

New Zealand hosted the WRC for the first time in a decade this year, but missed out on a spot next year after failing to secure the required government backing.

Gus Greensmith, Jonas Andersson, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Ford Puma Rally1

Photo by: McKlein/Motorsport Images

However, talks with New Zealand officials about a return continue, and a rotation with Australia is not out of the question.

However, what is unlikely is that both Australia and New Zealand will appear on the same calendar.

“It’s not like we could do it back-to-back, so they’d have to split up,” Larkin said. “And we have fixed contracts with Japan and we have a medium-term contract with Chile and a long-term contract with Kenya.”

If South Australia is given the go-ahead, it would mark the return of the world motorsport championship to the state that hosted the Australian Grand Prix from 1985 to 1995.

It’s also no stranger to rallying with the Adelaide Hills Rally, a gravel event, on the Australian Rally Championship calendar, while the tarmac-based Adelaide Rally is another staple of the event scene. local.

The newly elected SA government has recently reinstated the SA Motorsports Board, which includes former F1 racing director Michael Masi as a board member.

While SAMB’s main focus in recent months has been on reviving the Adelaide 500, which takes place this weekend, chief executive Mark Warren told the Castrol Motorsport News podcast this week that international events are a big part of the big picture.

Thierry Neuville, Martijn Wydaeghe, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Thierry Neuville, Martijn Wydaeghe, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Photo by: McKlein/Motorsport Images

“Well, it probably wouldn’t be a surprise if, since the Board was formed, there have been a lot of suggestions as to what else might be considered,” he said.

“We’re starting to focus our attention on that.

“There’s been a lot of talk before about having some international categories here. Michael Masi is great to have on the Board, because he’s so connected to that community.

“But even in things like having the Adelaide Rally and getting more engagement on the rally side and other motorsports, rather than just circuit racing.

“There will be good opportunities ahead.”

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