Strong factory interest for 2013 Australian Rally Championship
- 3rd September 2012, 7:18pm
The bold prediction from Scott Pedder comes with two rounds still to run in the 2012 Bosch ARC and reflects unprecedented manufacturer interest in the sport thanks largely to the new market-relevant ground rules that will see two wheel drive cars fighting out the Outright Championship from next year.
"It is easy to overstate things but I am confident that we will have at least three manufacturers involved in the championship next year and possibly as many as five at some point throughout the year," said Scott Pedder.
"This number doesn't include Polaris and Can Am who I expect will continue or even expand their support of the Australian Side by Side Rally Challenge in 2013 following an extremely successful inaugural year in 2012"
"In addition we have had serious and strong interest from other manufacturers and there is the very real chance that there may be up to eight vehicle manufacturers supporting the Championship in 2014," he added.
"I believe that our decision to switch to a more market relevant formula has been vindicated by the long term commitment from Honda and the imminent commitment from other manufacturers," he said.
"We consciously set out to make it as easy as possible for manufacturers to get involved in rallying and certainly cars like the Honda Jazz and the new Mazda 2 G2 spec cars have demonstrated that it is relatively easy to build a competitive and appealing machine locally if the manufacturer doesn't have an internationally homologated car to choose from.
"Of course we have some manufacturers who have competitive Internationally homologated two wheel drive vehicles that they can draw on to run in the ARC next year and there will be a number of these competing here I believe," Scott added.
"It is very exciting to have such strong interest in the Championship and I can't wait to announce the new manufacturers over the next few months," he said.
Pedder says rallying provides the ideal platform for manufacturers to showcase cars that are now amongst the most popular size category in the Australian market.
"I believe the business model we have presented to manufacturers offers value compared with many other forms of motor sport involvement and this has been a big part of the attraction.
Whilst I admit rallying doesn't have the outright exposure and appeal of a category such as V8 Supercars the major exposure and sales gains that manufacturers gain through motor sport involvement is by leveraging and activation programs through their own mass marketing.
"I believe the ARC is Australia's most market relevant motor sport championship and provides a tremendous platform for manufacturers to promote their products and enhance brand image in an environment that provides key characteristics like adventure, endurance, reliability and excitement.
"With a focus on small and medium two wheel drive passenger cars and SUV rallying provides a motorsport option for more than 70 per cent of the current Australian new vehicle market." he said.
"The fact that rallying has also pioneered an SUV Rally class has also proved a point of interest and I believe we will have more cars in this category in 2013.
"Although interest in outright two wheel drive cars and especially the new G2 formula has overshadowed manufacturer interest in SUV competition from so far, rallying is still very committed to the SUV Challenge and will continue to include SUV results as part of the Australian Rally Manufacturers Championship in 2013." he said.
Pedder went on to say that manufacturer interest is not the only positive evolving for next year.
"The interest and action by existing and new privateer teams for 2013 is also incredibly strong and I believe we will have a competition environment where we will again have privateers competitively mixing it with factory supported teams.
"Ultimately there will be more and more opportunities for drivers to make a profession from the sport domestically and potentially move on to the Asia Pacific or WRC." he concluded.
More than 2 million Australians will watch the Bosch ARC on TV in 2012 with the series generating 45 hours of national television coverage across the Ten/One HD network - a media equivalency value exceeding $12 million.
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