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If nothing else, the FIA have been good to their word. Australian rally fans may be beaming about a confirmed WRC round in 2021, but their Kiwi neighbours are understandably disappointed. With the release of the nine events confirmed for the 2021 World Rally Championship, Australia's name popped up with a note advising "new location, same organiser". There was no mention of México, Argentina, Chile, New Zealand, Turkey, GB or France, which presents a huge problem for all those rallies. Post COVID-19, and with uncertainty remaining over the resumption of the 2020 WRC, manufacturers only want 10 rallies in next year's championship. The financial downturn from the pandemic has hit hard, and reducing the number of rallies certainly makes sense from a financial point of view. The WRC, it is understood, want 12 rallies. At best, this leaves only three spots available on the 2020 calendar, and perhaps only one.
With Australia confirmed, it would seem highly unlikely that New Zealand would get one of those places, which is a crying shame.
Australia can consider itself lucky, despite the FIA sticking to their guns by giving New Zealand a one-off WRC round in 2020, before handing it back to Australia the following year. For sure, New Zealand have been incredibly unlucky because of the COVID-19 crisis, and if you were keeping things even in the school yard, then NZ would be given that slot in 2021, with Australia being told to wait until every child had their turn.

Rally Australia ran in Coffs Harbour on seven occasions, the first time in 2011. Photo: Peter Whitten

That doesn't appear to be how it works at the top level though. Just days after the Kiwis had announced their 'test event' later this year, and with the unveiling of a brilliant Power Stage location with wonderful viewing, big jumps and tremendous scenery, the NZ WRC story seems to have ground to a halt. Back across the ditch, Motorsport Australia still haven't confirmed where the next instalment of Rally Australia will be held, let alone publicly announced that it isn't going back to Coffs Harbour. There's no test event planned and, to be honest, we aren't even sure that it will be held in New South Wales. Of course, the smart money says that Rally Australia is headed to Bathurst, offering not only all the facilities already available at the Mt Panorama race track, but a location just three hours from Sydney, which is exactly what the WRC Promoter wants.
It's logical, but perhaps not entirely fair on all parties.
Like it or not, it's a problem that Coronavirus is solely to blame for, and one which neither Rally Australia or Rally New Zealand had any say it. That the FIA and the WRC Promoter have taken the stance they have is unfortunate. In a two-horse race there'll always be one winner and one loser. In this case, Australia has won it by a full World Rally Car length.

2021 WRC events confirmed:

Monte Carlo 1 Tarmac
Finland Gravel
Portugal Gravel
Sweden Snow WMSC confirmed in 2019
Kenya Gravel WMSC confirmed in 2019
Spain Tarmac WMSC confirmed in 2019 1
Italy Gravel WMSC confirmed in 2019
Japan Tarmac WMSC confirmed in 2019
Australia 2 Gravel WMSC confirmed in 2019 1
1. Subject to Event Promoter Agreement 2. New location, same organiser
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