Mitch Newton, director of the cancelled Mountain Stages Rally, joined us on the Special Stage Rally Podcast this week to discuss his role in the event and some of the aspects of running rallies that fans and competitors might not understand.

In summary, the ‘puzzle pieces’ just weren’t in place soon enough to commit to the event going ahead in the Tasmanian Rally Championship.

“I think there are a number of factors that come into play as an event organiser,” Newton told the Special Stage Rally Podcast.

“Realistically, you’re putting together a puzzle and six weeks out from the event you really need the majority of those puzzle pieces in the right place to go ahead.

“That’s generally when, at least in Tasmania anyway, that you get the go-ahead from the police to close off the roads, that you need to have all your permits sorted out. That was the point of no return that event got to.

“The majority of rallies in this country are put together by not-for-profit car clubs, by volunteers. And putting up those upfront costs to get a rally together is quite tricky and you need to be really certain that you’ve got a product on the table that is going to be viable and break even.”

In the case of the 2024 Mountain Stages Rally, there was no guarantee for the event to break even, and after a small loss on their 2023 event, the decision was made to cancel the event rather than incur yet another loss financially for the small car club.

Newton explains the various elements of costs incurred by an event to run safely and successfully, including Motorsport Australia and RallySafe fees.

He also chats about the challenges Tasmania faces based on their limited entry numbers – a hurdle that has been faced for decades.

“When you’re actually building up an event, you’re looking at a minimum fee, but that might be more so for covering 30 cars. The Tasmanian Rally Championship field is more so towards the 15 number, so in terms of spreading fixed costs, it’s more difficult.

“15 to 20, that’s a five-car difference, but that’s a 25 or 30 per cent difference in the amount of money that’s coming in. It has huge ramifications.”

Tasmania has some of the best rally roads in the country. Photo: Luke Whitten

Despite the cancellation in 2024, Newton explains that the event is not done, and 2025 is definitely on the cards, with some support brought forward by members of the rallying community.

“I think that’s the key thing since that announcement” he said. “We’ve had a number of people come out of the woodwork and say, ‘How can we help? How can we stop this from happening again?’

“At the moment we’ve only got two car clubs in the state that run rallies. So we’ve got one for this year that’s taking on that big workload. Full props to the North West Car Club for keeping things moving in Tassie.”

RallySport Magazine’s Special Stage podcast is available via the Motorsport Podcast Network on all your favourite podcast platforms.

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Luke Whitten

Luke is part of the third generation of the RallySport Magazine team and holds a degree in marketing & communications.
Luke is part of the third generation of the RallySport Magazine team and holds a degree in marketing & communications.