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2012-06-13 14:46

COMING SOON TO SA? Plans seem somewhat confused but could a leg of the World Rally championship be on the way to KZN?

Johannesburg - South Africa is said to be "in pole position" to host for the first time a leg of the World Rally championship in kwaZulu-Natal.

The most recent WRC event in Africa was 10 years ago in Kenya.

The bid, being led by Kagiso Media, is for entry into the second-biggest motorsport event in the world (after F1) with a worldwide TV audience of 570-million in more than 200 countries.


Positive signs towards a successful bid emerged when the country was tasked by the International Automobile Federation to host a candidate event from August 16-18 2012 using the Rally South Africa event to test readiness. Brazil is also in line and planned to hold a candidate rally in September and the result of the "shoot-out" would have given the winner a WRC slot in 2013 and the loser a possible slot in 2014.

Autosport magazine, however, reports from the UK that plans to introduce a WRC round in Brazil or South Africa in 2013 have now been shelved until 2014. With both countries running candidate events in the second half of the season, Autosport said, questions had been raised over the sense in leaving a calendar slot open for one or the other rally so late in the year.

2013's WRC calendar is expected to be a repeat of that of 2012 except for the rotation of Rally Australia and Rally New Zealand.

Murphy Morobe, CEO of Kagiso Media, says a successful bid would augur very well for South Africa: “We are happy to support an international sporting event that will contribute positively to the country. During the 2010 Soccer World Cup the country proved its ability to put together a world-class sporting event. We have toiled very hard to ensure our bid meets the criteria."

The SA WRC event is seen as taking place in The Valley of a Thousand Hills, in Richmond and along the south coast with the Moses Mabhida stadium to be used for the opening and closing events an as a vehicle service park.


S’bu Sithole, eTthekwini's city manager, said: "Being the host city of the event is in line with the objectives of attracting great events to Durban and encouraging tourism. Such events are crucial to develop the profile of the city and province. The WRC has a strong emphasis on tourism, with the event televised to a wide international audience.

"This exposure to international markets over a three-year period can only bode well for the city and the region."

Steve Miller, chairman of Motorsport SA, added: “For teams, sponsors and others involved, the importance of hosting a WRC round in South Africa is indisputable. It will undoubtedly raise the profile of motorsport in general and boost this discipline of the sport. We are fortunate that South Africa has a very strong reputation for being able to host major sporting events."

A leaked list of the 2013 WRC events includes Monte Carlo, Sweden, Mexico, Portugal, Argentina, Greece, Australia, Finland, Germany, Britain , France, Italy and Spain.

Wheels24's international motorsport and F1 correspondent DIETER RENCKEN comments:

"A meeting of the FIA's World Motorsport Council has been convened for Friday (June 15) in Paris and I believe the WRC's woes form a central part of the agenda.

"As for eThekweni's Mayor Sithloe's comment that 'the WRC has a strong emphasis on tourism, with the event televised to a wide international audience' the last three WRC events have not been 'widely' televised internationally - SuperSport can provide the necessary proof hereof - nor do such broadcast contracts exist for the balance of the season and beyond, and the current WRC furore centres on precisely that.

"eTthekweni and the NMCC got itself badly burnt by the A1 GP and previous KZN Rally fiascos and one truly trusts lessons have been learnt at metro council level."


Inside Wheels24

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