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Rally Australia officials are quietly working in the background to secure the event's future in the World Rally Championship. Taking a hiatus from the WRC in 2020, Rally Australia is expected to return to the calendar next year, however the COVID-19 pandemic may well push that back a year, to 2022. "At this stage, discussions are continuing with the FIA, WRC and various levels of government regarding Rally Australia’s 2021 future," Motorsport Australia's Michael Smith told RallySport Magazine. "We hope to be able to provide an update in the coming weeks." It is thought that New Zealand's bad luck this year could mean that their event is given another calendar slot in 2021, which would probably mean another year on the sidelines for Rally Australia. Nevertheless, event officials are working 'full steam ahead' on the next installation of the popular event. It now appears increasingly unlikely that the rally will be based in Coffs Harbour again, with Bathurst firming as the strong favourite to host the international event.

Scott Pedder driving a works Lancer Evo 7 on the 2005 Bathurst Rally. Photo: Peter Whitten

Agreement to a change in location will be primarily the decision of the NSW Government, who are the event's major funder, although it is also known that the WRC Promoter must be happy with any new (or existing) location. The Promoter has made known their dislike of Coffs Harbour, due to its distance from Sydney, and the motorsport mecca of Bathurst would seem to be the ideal location, should the Government want another major event in the rural city. Considerations for Rally Australia route co-ordinators include finding an itinerary that fits easily into a two-day reconnaissance period, and one that doesn't involve stages with unacceptably high average speeds.

A WRC round in Bathurst could run stages in the Sunny Corner and Oberon Forests. Photo: Peter Whitten

Bathurst could provide all of that, with ample stage distance in the Sunny Corner and Oberon forests, to the east and south east of the city. Bathurst's population is less than Coffs Harbour's, but being just over two hours from Sydney's western suburbs would seem to fit the WRC Promoter's wish for an event close to a capital city. The Mount Panorama circuit would also provide the perfect location for the Rally Australia service park and, potentially, a Super Special Stage.

NSW driver Brad Goldsbrough jumps his Subaru on the 2005 ARC round at Bathurst. Photo: Peter Whitten

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