New AASA Australian Rally Championship breaks cover
- 20th December 2007, 4:43pm
EXCLUSIVE - BY PETER WHITTEN
The Australian Auto Sport Alliance (AASA) will today announce the formation of a new east coast-based rally championship that is expected to gain tremendous momentum.
The AASA Australian Rally Championship will consist of five events on the east coast of Australia, with competitors being able to run anything from a latest-spec car, right through to classic and AMSAG-style cars.
The AASA, which sanctioned over 800 events in Australia this year, is in the midst of an upsurge of popularity as many car clubs become tired of the ever-increasing limitations being introduced by the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport (CAMS).
The new championship will include events in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, and possibly Tasmania, with existing events to be included in the new series.
Spokesman for the AASA’s Australian Rally Championship, Bruce Robertson, said that there would be no registration fee to enter the series, and that all competitors would be eligible to score points.
A former state and ARC competitor himself in a Group G Commodore, Mazda 323s and Neal Bates-built Celica GT-Fours, Robertson said the idea of the new championship was to provide competitors with events they wanted to compete in, rather than giving them a championship with a regimented set of rules and regulations, and that directors can add their individual flair to.
“Each event will run individually,” he said. “AASA will sanction the championship, but it will be up to each event to decide the format they wish to run, whether that be the style of pacenotes, how many days or stages their rally will run for, and whether it will be run during the day or at night, or both.
“In essence we’ve anointed club or state events as rounds of the championship, but we don’t see that as being a problem,” he added. “Each event will live or die on its own commercial merits, and the ability to have events join or leave the championship is a work in progress. I have no doubt many event directors will like this concept and want to join in.”
Only last week the AASA launched the Australian Motor Racing Championship, and Robertson believes that the television coverage that the circuit racing series will generate will also, ultimately, benefit the rally championship. He said that he expected that the TV coverage would come to them, without the burden of having to pay a network or provider many hundreds of thousands of dollars for the privilege.
The AASA Australian Rally Championship will include three separate championships, for four-wheel drive cars, two-wheel drive cars, and for classic rally cars.
While there won’t be overall championship prizemoney allotted as yet, cash prizes may be offered by each individual event.
With the many problems that the CAMS-run Australian Rally Championship is currently in the midst of trying to solve, the new AASA-run series could be seen as the shot in the arm the sport needs. Many months in the planning, discussions have already taken place with authorities regarding road useage, and behind the scenes a strong backing for the championship is already emerging.
Vehicle manufacturers and some recent Australian Rally Champions have already shown a keen interest in the championship, and it may not be too wild a prediction to say that the pointy end of the field could soon include some of Australia’s best drivers, and fastest rally cars.
The new series may gain even greater popularity because of the AASA’s pragmatic regulations. Unlike CAMS, who align themselves closely to the regulations of the FIA, the AASA has no such restraints. While safety is of a paramount importance in their events and high standards will be required from vehicles and equipment, AASA don’t want this to be a limiting factor in having competitors competing or not.
“Things like the recent controversy regarding safety harnesses will be handled in a sensible manner, not blindly following overseas edicts,” he added. “AASA have engaged Standards Australia who look at the implications of sensible application and useage of safety gear in motor sports.”
From months of speaking to club level competitors they had become aware of the need for more relaxed rules which allow all competitors to compete on an equal basis, and without having to spend thousands of dollars on the latest, expensive safety items.
An official announcement on the new AASA Australian Rally Championship is expected this morning, with further updates being released on a weekly basis until February.
The announcement is guaranteed to give the hierarchy at CAMS more than a few headaches as they leave the office for their Christmas break this afternoon.
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