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Last weekend’s Rally New Zealand saw the closest finish in World Rally Championship history. After 350km of competitive driving, the winning margin was just 0.3 of a second.



That equates to just 7.5 metres over three days – an amazing statistic when you consider all the variables that are thrown up during a rally that takes place over three days, in varying weather conditions, and by two drivers who were in different makes of car.

Marcus Gronholm and Sebastien Loeb produced a superb battle that will surely rank as one of the greatest of all time, yet the event still failed to make it onto the nightly news bulletins in Australia – at least not the ones I watched.

Okay, so the two guys are from Finland and France, but a little further back, Aussie Chris Atkinson was fourth, and produced a brilliant final day drive to overtake Finland’s Jari-Matti Latvala.

But that obviously doesn’t rate in the media. The networks had blanket coverage of Craig Mottram’s disappointing 13th place in the 5000m final at the World Athletics Championship, but Australian rallying’s brightest star again failed to make the grade – or at least in their eyes.

Perhaps we only have ourselves to blame though. Here we are just 12 short months out from our own round of the World Rally Championship, yet noboby seems to know anymore than the fact that it will be held in Queensland, and that the works teams, including Subaru, Ford and Citroen, have driven the route.

What will it take for the organisers to release some details about the event? Chris Atkinson was in Australia before Rally NZ, and you would have thought that would have been the perfect time to announce plans for the event. But as we said, the media don’t “rate” Atko, so perhaps they’re waiting for Craig Mottram to return from Japan so that he can do the PR work….

It’s easy to be cynical when we’re all being treated like mushrooms, so you can hardly blame the general media for giving rallying the bum’s rush when it comes to covering events that aren’t even in our country. But the blame can not be labelled just at Rally Australia either - sure, their promotion of their own event has been poor, but they don't control the media, nor do they have an input into what they report (or don't report).

The sport has a long, long way to go before it can claim to be an accepted form of motorsport in the eyes of the media. V8 Supercars, Formula 1, Moto GP, Superbikes and NASCAR continue to proliferate on our screens, but rallying remains a very distant cousin – unless there’s some “exciting” footage of a big accident, that is.

 



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