Plans firming for WRC Australia return
By Mat Coch
Wednesday 21st July, 2021 - 11:15am
Motorsport Australia is working to ensure the World Rally Championship returns to Australia for 2023.
Work is currently underway to secure a location for the event’s return, with an announcement expected in the “not-too-distant future”.
“We’re in a lot of dialogue with the WRC promoter, I mean, we have a really close relationship,” Motorsport Australia’s Mike Smith told Speedcafe.com.
“Together with government, I think there’s a big appetite to bring the World Rally Championship back to Australia and we’re still working on it, that’s for sure, and we’re very keen to make it happen.”
While Smith is optimistic, there remain a number of hurdles to clear, least of all confirmation of a venue.
Most recently, WRC Australia has operated out of Coffs Harbour, but it has also been held in Kingscliff and, prior to that, Perth.
Speculation has previously suggested that could see the event end up at Mount Panorama, though Smith refused to be drawn on details.
“I can’t divulge that information other than to say I’m sure people would be very excited to know where we’re thinking about running the event,” he said.
“And we look forward to making those announcements in the not-too-distant future, hopefully.”
Another consideration is the pandemic, with limitations and restrictions currently impacting international travel.
They have proved enough to curtail international competition in Australia this year, with both Formula 1 and MotoGP cancelling their visits Down Under.
There is also the matter of finding a promoter locally to underpin the event.
“There’s a whole wide range of factors,” Smith said when asked if Motorsport Australia would consider promoting the event itself.
“What’s hanging over us all at the moment is the uncertainty with border restrictions, and that of course is the biggest one.
“But you’ve got to have the start of the line with a promoter at a date available and working with them on an appropriate venue – also from a government point of view, ensuring that whatever investment they make is it’s going to give them value.
“So they’re discussions that we’re having on an almost weekly basis at the moment.”
No announcement regarding the venue of the proposed event is expected until after the FIA confirmed the 2022 World Rally Championship calendar, a point acknowledged by Smith.
“I think it’s a bit premature for us to be talking about a 2023 calendar but I will say that our discussions are quite advanced.”
Australia last held a round of the WRC in 2018, the 2019 edition cancelled due to bushfires in the area around the event.