by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
GP Week : Issue 62
be acceptable, he found the support of an entrepreneur who was developing a proposed Formula 1 complex south of Brisbane, just north of the border with New South Wales, which would double- up as a base for the rally as well. The schedule was set. The FIA agreed that a world championship event could be run out of Queensland in 2009, after a three year gap in the series. Then it all started to go wrong. Formula 1 was not going to leave Melbourne after all, and the whole development project fell flat. Time was ticking away. The FIA by now had an event rotation system in place. If Rally Australia was going to happen again, it had to be 2009 or else it would be 2011 at the earliest. With a year to go, the New South Wales government agreed that the rally could be held within their state, and that was where the fun started. A huge new leisure centre complex called SALT was being developed just south of the NSW border. They were interested to host the event, and then came the quest for suitable locations for the stages. Whereas the old Perth based event was able to run the rally within huge forest complexes, all within reasonably easy reach of Perth, the area selected for the new generation Rally Australia was being heavily developed, and large tracts of land were not available, or were already ear- marked as areas important for natural conservation. The stages were no longer to be run on private forest land, instead they would be run on closed public roads, which demanded the blessing and support of the local inhabitants. There was just one year to make it all happen, in an area that had no heritage of rally behind it. This was indeed virgin territory in more ways than one. The procedure for obtaining permission for Australian road closures was to make a Development Application, a normal formality for all major events in the country that impinge on the use of public property. Aware of the potential sensitivity of the event, the promoters took pains to check out any negative potential impact that the rally could cause, and made the application a public affair, inviting feedback about any unexpected consequences of running the rally. This was a colossal exercise. Specialist reports were obtained, covering a vast range of matters, from the ecological aspects relating to livestock and fauna, the inevitable inconvenience caused by dust from the speedy passage of cars on gravel roads, the disposal of waste materials, the effect of the noise of passing cars, and the cultural, social and economic impact of the event. Within a four month time frame, reports totalling over 700 pages were prepared, identifying potential difficulties and advising how specific problems could be avoided. Transparency was deemed vital, and the reports were distributed to all interested parties. The organisers of the event were ever vigilant about the claims of the protesters, to the extent that all competitors had to report impacts with animals, and the officials were briefed to collect up carcasses of animals found along the route, to determine if they met their end during the event or at some other time. But first the rally had to be authorised officially. There was a worry from another directions. Only six month before the rally was due to run, there were catastrophic storms in the area and large tracts of land in the rally region were inundated. When the waters subsided, the damage caused to the rally roads was fortunately light. As time ticked on, the FIA themselves started to be anxious. President Max Mosley personally contacted the NSW State Premier for an assurance that the event would in fact be held, and the reaction was immediate. He ordered that an Act of Parliament be passed immediately authorising the event, which was passed by both houses of the state Parliament. This was quite a regular procedure in the organisation of major events, but time was now critically short. The promoters had, meanwhile, assumed that things would ultimately work out, and had proceeded with the event organisation. But it was only at the end of June, during the time of Rally of Poland, that it was officially announced that the rally would take place. Meanwhile, various local authorities were unhappy, and a major division of opinion emerged. The favourable economic impact report was a major plus, but there was a lot of unhappiness at the way that the ecological aspects appeared to be steam-rolled away. Then came the difficulties of local homologation of cars. World Rally Cars are no longer used in Australian rallying, and national championship events are run for Group N cars with special rules, of considerably more performance than FIA rules. A special category for such cars was offered, but this opportunity was not taken up, indeed only one such car started the event, a car that had been supplied to the winner of a national find-a-driver promotion run by the event sponsor. And the country's best performance rally car, a Toyota Auris Super 2000, was also running prepared to local rules and not compliant with international rules, and only two days before the start of the rally was this car homologated by the FIA. The days before the start were marked by a rear guard action by a local political councillor, who was angry at the way the views of the ecological supporters were overruled, and went to Sydney, the state capital, one week before the rally to petition for an injunction to stop the rally. This was thrown out and landed her with a heavy claim for costs, which threatened to bankrupt her and leave the community with very heavy costs in a bye-election. Heavy political stuff, even so, but she persisted on her mission in a way that had an unpleasant touch to it. She was seeking to hold the rally to ransom on account of the way that she disagreed with the action of her democratically elected state managers. Finally the show got on the road and Australia once again found itself on the international rally calendar. everything, it happened ... WRC schedule was a bumpy affair, but as MARTIN HOLMES reports, the event went ahead WRC AUSTRALIA >> 39