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GP Week : 01-Sep-2009
GPWEEK OPINION >> it -- as a rallying fan, and an Australian, I want us to continue having one of the best WRC rounds in the world, just like Perth was. However, having grown up in Western Australia, I know how passionate about World Rallying the state's population was. Even though the interest dwindled a bit in the closing years (as it would after nearly two decades), there was still plenty of people coming through the gate at Gloucester Park, and taking to the bush for the Bunnings stages on Sunday. The fact that the government gave up the event was never due to public pressure. It was due to, umm, well, that's a good question. To the contrary, a week out from the NSW event, there is public pressure, through the courts, to put a stop to the rally. It's been promoted as an environmental risk by the neighsayers, which, of course, is an opinion bred purely from a lack of understanding. The fact that a protest group crashed the press launch of a Peugeot road car in the area recently, believing it was a secret recce for the rally, shows how little the local population know about the sport. That was never a problem in WA, because the people understood rallying. So that's the WRC's challenge for the weekend -- put on such a great show that the do-gooders have no option but to suck it up and accept the fact that worldwide promotion of the community, state and country is a good thing. year off in 1992. But it never quite caught on, and had all the evidence of a slow wasting disease, in spite of the Dorna MotoGP take-over, and the injection of considerable funds and promotional effort. By now, AMA racing had completely changed. Road racing and dirt-track were quite separate ... a factor some blame for the relative dearth of recent US GP talent. Dirt-tracking is great training for GP racing, and here was a generation that may only have dabbled at powering on in the pea-gravel, if at all. Looks like the standards dropped as a result, and the rate of cross- over between AMA racing and MotoGP dwindled to almost zero. Dorna was not for abandoning its American suit, however, and continued overtures to Laguna finally found a sympathetic ear for a revival of the Californian race in 2005. Home hero Nicky Hayden won it, but another rider was at least as important to the fact that now, at last, GP racing seemed to catch on. Valentino Rossi. The same factor has seen the Laguna race grow encouragingly. And it saw Indianapolis jump to join in the fun last year, to help celebrate its centenary with a second Stateside MotoGP. Hurricane Ike spoiled that party. Perhaps that's why, in spite of balmy weather, this year's crowd was down by some 20 percent, at 75, 130 for race day. Just a blip? Or more creeping apathy that will not survive the departure of Rossi? Will motorbike GP racing catch on in America this time round? m home chequered flag 21