Is the WRC finally on it’s way back to NZ?

Will it or won’t it seems to have been the perpetual question in recent years regarding Rally New Zealand.

As the FIA and the WRC Promoter continues to procrastinate over the make up and release of the 2020 World Rally Championship calendar, it’s looking increasingly promising for the return of RNZ.

Discussions I had last week indicated that New Zealand’s much-awaited WRC comeback was getting closer and closer, although there’s still a chance that it may only be for one year.

Australia looks like being the loser, at least in the short term, with a potential return again in 2021.

Regardless of that, if the WRC does venture to the land of the long white cloud in 2020, then Kiwi rally fans, competitors and sponsors need to back the event to the hilt, and make it difficult for the Promoter to change its mind.

Possession, they say, is 9/10th of the law.

The work put in over recent years by Rally New Zealand, with Hayden Paddon the visible and influential public face, has been nothing short of inspirational.

In the modern world, however, money talks. New Zealand looked set to see the WRC back in 2018, but when Turkey entered the stakes with a big cheque book, it scuppered NZ’s bid.

This year it may be different, and while confidence is high, nobody is counting their chickens before they hatch.

The calendar is due any day now, although we’ve been saying that for some time now.

Jari-Matti Latvala, winner of the 2018 Rally Australia

Back in Australia, they’re working full-steam ahead towards this year’s Coffs Harbour based rally – the eighth time the mid-NSW north coast city has hosted the event.

Coffs Harbour and Rally Australia have done nothing wrong in that time. They’ve continually provided a world class event that provides exciting stages and close-fought action.

The season finale and end of year gala dinner have also proved popular the past two years.

Yet the WRC’s wish to have events based closer to a capital city is now working against Coffs, which sits six hours drive north of Sydney.

Unfortunately the sensible idea of including both New Zealand and Australia on the calendar, three weeks apart, isn’t even on the WRC Promoter’s radar, and for the life of me I can’t understand why.

It seems there’s still only a lukewarm effort to reinstate the word ‘world’ into World Rally Championship.

Hayden Paddon finished second in the 2018 WRC round in Australia

Peter Whitten

Peter has been the editor of RallySport Magazine since its inception in 1989, in both printed and online form. He is a long-time competitor, event organiser and official, as well as working in the media.

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