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GP Week : Issue 28
Dani Sordo (above) and Marcus Gronholm (right) complete the Langley Park special stage during the final Western Australia WRC round, in 2006. Rally Oz pioneered Superspecial stages moved up to Queensland, all spare time being taken organising motor sporting events. In the mid ‘80s Australian FIA delegate John Roxburgh was sensing that there might be vacancies in the world championship calendar, and that there could be a chance for Australia to get involved. Working alongside Australian Grand Prix guru Mal Hemmeling, Connelly contacted the various state authorities. They discovered that Perth, having lost the chance to host the America’s Cup, found themselves looking for an international promotion to take the place of ocean yacht racing. 46 A trial rally was held in 1988; in 1989 Australia was in the World Rally Championship. Perhaps the most fundamental aspect to the organisation was EventsCorp, a government-owned enterprise, but independent in policy. This initially worked well as the entity through which Australia’s WRC event was organised, but then during the ‘90s, EventsCorp became a division of the Western Australia Tourism Commission and a lot of its independence was lost. It became part of the public service, and in the course of time the employees of Rally Australia became public servants with all the consequent change of responsibilities and culture. “This changed many things, not the least the relationships with the many honorary officials working voluntarily to organise the rally.” When it was evident that people from the senior levels of the Western Australian public service saw themselves as having more control over the organisation of a motor sport event, the concept had changed, from one in which the Government funded the event to an event which they wanted to run. This was something which was not acceptable to the sporting official, to CAMS and to the FIA authorities and eventually temporary compromises were agreed to save the event. Garry felt the future of the event was not secure, and left the organisation in 2002 to await developments. The organisation of Rally Australia at Perth in fact continued to run for another four years until a locally political decision was taken not to continue with the event. During that time Connelly continued his responsibilities as Chairman of the Rally Commission of CAMS and was its representative at the FIA. He also continued to run his financial services company in Brisbane and to accept a