WRC linked to new South Australia event

SA has emerged as a leading contender to host the Rally of Australia should it return to the WRC programme.

The event, held recently in Coffs Harbor in New South Wales, has not been on the calendar since 2019.

It has long been anticipated that a new event will be required for Australia to return to the WRC schedule, and the Coffs are unpopular with teams due to their distance from Sydney.

This new home could be Adelaide, which is thought to be one of two states the South Australian government is in contact with with WRC officials.

WRC event director Simon Larkin told Autosport, “We’re having two preliminary talks with government agencies and we’re still in talks with both and we’ll see how things go.”

Larkin has confirmed that the series will not be returning to New South Wales, although he is not aware of which governments are in the mix.

This was in response to a question about an earlier proposal to bring the WRC to Bathurst, which has been disrupted by COVID.

“There’s no New South Wales in the mix,” he said. “The Destination New South Wales option has expired, so we’re investigating another location.”

Larkin also confirmed that 2025 will likely be Australia’s earliest return to the calendar, with the proposal effectively tied to New Zealand.

The target is 2025, not before,” he said. “We are being very practical and sensible as we have a huge demand for slots on the calendar.

“But Australasia, whether it’s Australia or New Zealand, are our main targets right now. Talks with New Zealand are also ongoing.”

NZ hosted the WRC for the first time in ten years this year, but missed a spot the next year after failing to garner the necessary government support.

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

Photo: McKlein / Motorsport Images

Talks are ongoing with New Zealand officials about a return, but a rotation with Australia is out of the question.

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

“It’s not like we can do it back-to-back, so they’re going to have to break up,” Larkin said. “We have fixed contracts with Japan and medium-term contracts with Chile and long-term contracts with Kenya.”

If South Australia gets approval, the motorsport world championship will return to the state that hosted the Australian Grand Prix from 1985 to 1995.

While rallying with the Adelaide Hills Rally, a gravel event on the Australian Rally Championship calendar, is no stranger, the Adelaide Rally held on asphalt is another staple of the local events scene.

The newly elected SA government has recently re-established the SA Motorsport Board, which includes former F1 racing director Michael Masi as a board member.

While SAMB’s primary focus for the past few months has been to revive this weekend’s Adelaide 500, CEO 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: McKlein / Motorsport Images

“It probably wouldn’t be surprising that since the board was formed we’ve had a lot of suggestions on what else to look at,” he said.

“We started to turn our attention to this.

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

“But it’s down to things like having the Adelaide Rally and getting more participation on the rally side and other motorsports rather than track racing.

“There will be good opportunities ahead”

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