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GP Week : Issue 62
SOMEWHERE, they took the wrong turn. Repco Rally Australia was intended to go to Queensland, but it ended up in New South Wales. This is the story of the long and winding road to Kingscliff, a destination where they had never originally intended to go. The latest story in Rally Australia's quest for a renewed position in the FIA's World Rally Championship calendar had a most remarkable series of twists. The event, which had been launched in 1988 and was fast-tracked into the WRC in 1989, had been run out of Western Australia. It was immediately and rightly applauded by everyone in the sport for its excellence and innovation of organisation, but gradually the gloss wore off. However well the event continued to be run, however enjoyable the event still was, not everybody was happy. Heavily supported by the regional government, the politicians increasingly saw this event as the chance to acclaim local expertise. They began to demand an increasing degree of local responsibility, which started to conflict with the highly specialist background needed to maintain its position in the sport. The founder of the event, Garry Connelly, himself an inhabitant of Queensland, saw the way things were going and left the organising team to concentrate on working more with the nation's sporting authorities. The event continued successfully with Connelly's helpers at the helm until finally a change of political regime in the state declared this was not an event within their remit. 2006 was the final Rally Australia run at Perth. Connelly set to work looking for ways to resurrect the event in his local territory. After checking with the FIA that a new venue would Despite Australia's return to the W 38