A spectacular and challenging route will take the world’s best drivers through forests and farming land and along the sea front on the World Rally Championship’s (WRC) inaugural visit to the New South Wales Coffs Coast for Rally Australia this September.

The route, announced today, covers a total of 369 kilometres on 26 timed competitive stages within a radius of approximately 75 kms north, west and south of the rally base and encompassing the Nambucca, Bellingen, Coffs Harbour and Clarence Valley Shires.

Rally Australia, Round 10 of the 2011 FIA World Rally Championship, will start with rally car displays, driver presentations and entertainment in Coffs Harbour, 535 kms north of Sydney, on the evening of Thursday 8 September.

It will finish on the city’s waterfront on Sunday afternoon, 11 September.

The battle for one of the most prestigious prizes in world motorsport, featuring drivers including seven-time champion Sebastien Loeb and Citroen teammate Sebastien Ogier from France, Ford aces Mikko Hirvonen and Jari-Matti Latvala from Finland, Formula 1 champion Kimi Raikkonen, Norway’s Petter Solberg and American Ken Block, will showcase the Coffs Coast with dedicated television coverage in more than 180 countries.

The final test, a feature of all WRC rounds called the Power Stage, will be broadcast live around the world from the Clarence Valley.

Organisers expect up to 100 cars to enter, including those contesting the Coffs Coast Forest Rally round of the Bosch Australian Rally Championship and the Coffs Coast Classic Rally.

Spectator points will be provided throughout the route, but the biggest crowds are expected at the Super Special Stage to be run on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights in The Jetty precinct on the Coffs Harbour waterfront.

Daytime stages on all-gravel shire and forestry roads have been designed to take the rally to hinterland areas on Friday, southern areas on Saturday and the northern areas on Sunday.

Other spectator attractions will include the Service Park in the general aviation area of the Coffs Harbour Regional Airport, where teams will be based for up to two weeks before the event and cars return for service during the competition.

Rally Australia’s chief sporting official, Clerk of Course Dr Michelle Gatton, said the final route was the result of many months of road surveys and consultations.

“Designing a course to meet the specific requirements of the World Rally Championship is a complex task,” Dr Gatton said.

“We need to not only identify roads that offer an appropriate challenge to the world’s best drivers, but also to ensure they provide good viewing opportunities and ready access for spectators, television, photographers and emergency services.

“Each stage will be run once in the morning and once in the afternoon, on one day only. Public-road closure periods will be as short as possible and residents will have additional access.”

Dr Gatton said rally staff and volunteers had contacted directly-affected residents and land owners along the route to ensure their needs were accommodated.

“Since last November we have contacted in excess of 1200 residents. There have been surprisingly few issues and generally overwhelming support,” she said.

“Additionally, we have spoken to the four local councils, Aboriginal Land Council representatives, Chambers of Commerce and other business organisations, tourism groups and sports clubs.

“We have commissioned ecological, cultural heritage and dust and waste-management reports.

“The final result is that the World Rally Championship teams and entourage will be coming to a region that is ready to welcome them and recognises the community social and economic opportunities they will bring.

“In turn, we will be setting the drivers a challenge on roads that will bring their skills to the fore and give our spectators a fabulous show.”

Rally Australia Route Summary:
Number of Stages: 26
Competitive Distance: 369.04 kms total
Transit distance between Stages: 868.20 kms total
Event Total: 1237.24 kms
Shortest Stage: Super Special Stage 3.77 kms, Thursday/Friday/Saturday nights
Longest Stage: SS 22 & 25, 30 kms, Sunday
Power Stage: 4.58 kms


Thursday 8 September
• 4.30 pm Rally Show and Official Start
• Super Special Stages 1-2

Friday 9 September
• Gravel Special Stages 3-8 (North-West & Hinterland)
• Super Special Stages 9-10

Saturday 10 September
• Gravel Special Stages 11-18 (South)
• Super Special Stages 19-20

Sunday 11 September
• Gravel Special Stages 21-26 (North-East) including Power Stage
• Official Finish Coffs Harbour

View photos of the Rally Australia launch HERE

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