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As New Zealand continues to push for a return to the World Rally Championship, former Rally Australia Clerk of Course, Garry Connelly, says the chances of Australia and New Zealand hosting rounds of the WRC in the same year are “zero”.

Garry Connelly (pictured with Kimi Raikkonen) is now one of four Chief Stewards for the Formula 1 World Championship.In a wide-ranging interview in the upcoming March issue of RallySport Magazine, Connelly, who was also the Chairman of the Rally Australia Organising Committee for 16 years, says times have changed.  

When asked if we can ever get back to a situation where both countries are hosting a round, Connelly replied:
“Sadly no.  New Zealand’s event was always a good one and it was great when both countries could host a round.  

“Frankly, with the desire for rounds in India, China, Korea, Japan (again), Africa and the Middle East, I think that Rally Australia will need to pull out all stops, invest and innovate more, and ensure it keeps up its high level of organisation (which it demonstrated again in 2016) to remain in the championship.  

“There won’t be an appetite from the teams, the WRC Promoter or the FIA to increase the number of rounds, so simple maths will tell you that Australia needs to be careful if it wishes to retain its spot.

“The chance of seeing an event in both Australia and New Zealand is zero – despite how much both countries may deserve it,” Connelly said.

New Zealand last hosted a round of the WRC in 2012, but a push, led largely by Hyundai star Hayden Paddon, to see the championship return to its shores has been gathering momentum over recent months.

Rally New Zealand will return to the calendar in November this year as a round of the national championship, with Motor Sport New Zealand hopeful of gaining WRC status for 2018.

Rally Australia will run in Coffs Habour the week before the NZ event, the sixth time the Coffs Coast will have hosted the rally.

Read the full Garry Connelly interview in the March 2017 issue of RallySport Magazine, available March 7.

- Peter Whitten

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