Kiwi to head World Rally Commmission
Rally NZ Chairman Morrie Chandler has been elected President of the World Rally Championship Commission at a meeting of the FIA World Motorsport Council (WMSC) in Paris yesterday.
Chandler has held the position in an interim role for some months and is honoured that his international colleagues on the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) have seen fit to elect him to this position. He credits his appointment to the continuing volunteer efforts of the motorsport fraternity in NZ, who have created an environment that has allowed him to achieve to this level.
"I am immensely proud to be elected as President of the body in charge of World Championship Rallying and for the support from Max Mosley the President of the FIA. I couldn’t have done so without the great support of many people in the Rally NZ organisation over many years. You don’t rise to this level as an individual without your own country’s event gaining great respect worldwide."
Chandler is quick to warn however that New Zealand can not afford to be complacent, and must do better than it has in the past if it seeks to continue beyond 2007, as a round of the WRC.
"The competition for inclusion in the WRC is now more intense than it ever has been. I have seen first hand the efforts made by other countries to gain inclusion and continue to be amazed by the level of cooperation and support from governments and businesses in those countries. Senior representatives of the governments of Ireland, Norway and Jordan were present in Paris, on the chance that their Rally may have been successful in being included in the 2007 calendar. The competition is intense; we must not rest on our laurels."
Rally NZ General Manager Paul Mallard was thrilled to hear the news but was equally quick to warn others of falling into any so called ‘comfort zone’.
"This is a wonderful achievement for Morrie and just reward for many years of commitment to the sport here in New Zealand and around the world. I know he will make a success of the role and continue to work for the good of rallying worldwide."
"However we must not assume that given Morrie’s elevation to the role of President that we can sit back and rest on our laurels here in New Zealand, far from it. Given the current climate of change we must be ever vigilant and ensure that our event ranks amongst the very best in the world. Only by performing at the highest level can we ensure that we retain our current World Rally Championship Event status."
Indeed that complacency was warned off at the same meeting with three successful events being culled from the 2007 WRC calendar: Cyprus and Turkey and the award winning Rally Australia.
Mallard says his organisation will concentrate on delivering the very best event from it’s new base at Mystery Creek in November this year.
"Decisions taken at the World Motorsport Council meeting in Paris send a clear signal that no event is guaranteed ongoing championship status. There are many others requesting inclusion and presenting good credentials to the FIA. Rally NZ must continue to seek the support of all relevant agencies and commercial partners to ensure that the largest single annual international sporting event in this country survives and prospers beyond 2007. The global media coverage and the injection of millions of dollars into the local economy from hosting a World Rally Championship event must not be lost."
The TV audience alone of Rally New Zealand is expected to be in excess of 400,000,000 people worldwide, and that is a level of awareness of the clean green New Zealand image that must not be lost to the country.
Rally New Zealand was confirmed on the list of events for the 2007 WRC for August 31 to September 2. Mallard is pleased with the certainty of dates this far out from the event and will begin planning immediately, keeping in mind the focus is also on the 2006 event in November this year.
Rally New Zealand is the only annual World status event to be hosted in New Zealand.
Morrie Chandler will be available for further interviews from Friday afternoon, following his return from Paris.