New Zealand’s Hayden Paddon has renewed calls for Australia’s round of the World Rally Championship to be transferred across the Tasman.
New Zealand have not a hosted a round of the world series since 2011, when a rotational-deal with Australia came to an end.
Paddon, who finished fourth behind winner Andreas Mikkelsen after sliding into a bank and shredding a tyre on the final day, brought with him a legion of fans and a heavy New Zealand media contingent to the Australian round at Coffs Harbour on the NSW north coast over the weekend.
And the Rally New Zealand ambassador believes the fact he was the most supported driver is further evidence the round should return to his homeland.
“There’s certainly a lot more Kiwis than Australians – they were everywhere,” he said.
“So it just emphasises the fact that the rally should be on the other side of the Tasman.”
Australia is contracted to at least another rally in 2017, and officials are hopeful that deal can be extended into 2018 and beyond.
This year’s event saw a jump in crowd interest off the back of a new beachside super special stage on Friday and Saturday evening, which attracted big numbers.
It’s also understood Australian officials had aimed to impress their WRC counterparts by providing a more environmentally friendly weekend in comparison with other rounds on the calendar.
Paddon, who became the first driver from either country to win an event this year and finish fourth in the championship, is a fan of returning to a rotational-basis between the two countries with stints of two or three years.
However Rally Australia’s sporting director Adrian Stafford indicated to AAP last week that the organisation was not interested in entering into such a deal with their Kiwi counterparts.
Regardless, Paddon believes the event has the support required to return to the other side of the Tasman.
“There’s a lot of interest within the service park, the FIA, the promoters to bring it back,” Paddon said.
“No doubt (you’d have bigger crowds).
“We have huge enthusiasm for rallying in New Zealand. You’d just get huge support. There would be tens-of-thousands of people out in the stages.”