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Reports of a possible new location for Rally Australia in 2021 have hit the mainstream media, although event officials are remaining tight-lipped. RallySport Magazine has been aware for some months that an event based in the motorsport mecca of Bathurst was Rally Australia's fall back location, but has purposely held back releasing the information while it was still a Coffs Harbour-based rally. Bathurst has a lot of positives as a location for a WRC round, but a lot of water has to pass under the bridge before that happens. The WRC Promoter has long held a desire to leave Coffs Harbour as, in their opinion, the city is too far from Sydney and doesn't have a population base big enough to satisfy them. According to a report on carsales.com.au: "There have already been clandestine meetings with senior officials of the Bathurst Regional Council, Destination NSW and members of the outgoing organisation.
"Bathurst is now the clear favourite for the return of the WRC to Australia, ahead of Canberra, Coffs Harbour and several other NSW regional cities."
However, it is our understanding that any move away from Coffs Harbour would be largely dependent on the NSW Government, who have funded the operations of the event over recent years. With major motorsport events already based in Bathurst and Newcastle, the NSW Government has seen the Coffs Coast as the ideal location to promote the area to a worldwide audience. But with the Bathurst 1000 and the Bathurst 12 Hour already key pillars on the motorsport calendar, it remains to be seen whether the Government would further promote the region with yet another motorsport event.

Bathurst last hosted a round of the ARC in 2005, an event also based at Mt Panorama. Photo: Peter Whitten

“Rally Australia is not dead. There is an understanding from the WRC promoter that the event will be back on the calendar in 2021 and beyond,” the spokesman for Rally Australia, Chris Nixon, confirmed to carsales. “All options are under consideration.” "Sydney is the big attraction for the WRC teams and their parent car-makers," car sales' Paul Gover reported. "And Bathurst is close enough for a ceremonial start in Australia’s biggest city before the actual rally. "The born-again Rally Australia could take in forestry stages west of the Blue Mountains, high-speed shire road running around Bathurst and a super-special stage focussed on Mount Panorama."
At this stage it's all just smoke and mirrors, and even the proposed Asia Pacific Rally Championship event in Coffs Harbour next November hasn't been confirmed.
Either government or Motorsport Australia funding will need to be found for that event to run, which is also set to be the final round of the Australian Rally Championship. It's great news that plans for Rally Australia 2021 are underway, but at this stage – and until we see an official announcement – it's all just talk.
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Coffs Harbour has proved to be brilliant location for Rally Australia since 2011.

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