New Zealand organisers seeking $1m to fund WRC return

The WRC could soon head back to New Zealand for the first time in eight years. But there is one hurdle to be surmounted before anything happens. That is the small matter of the rally needing to some up with a further $NZ1million (£540,000) in funding, according to local newspaper Newshub.

The hope is clearly that Rally Australia will fail to find a new home deemed suitable by the big teams. Kiwi driver Hayden Paddon has said that plans are well advanced for officials in the country to capitalise on the uncertainty surrounding Rally Australia's host city for next year.

"I know there's a lot of work going on behind the scenes,” Paddon said. “II think it's looking very promising - it could be here next year as a one-off event. I think New Zealand's in a very strong position, they just have to find a bit of funding. Even as soon as the next month or two, there'll be a decision made on whether it will be here next year, so it's an exciting time."

The rally was lost in 2012, with Australia being favoured by the WRC. However, now top officials are unhappy with Coffs Harbour as a base and have hinted that Auckland has a chance of replacing it. With the America's Cup schedule for Auckland in 2021, Rally NZ is looking to provide an alternative venue, until Australia can find a new location.

Sources say, if the Kiwis can find the funding it will then be up to the governing body to green light the event.

"We’re hopeful of having the rally back in 2020," Rally New Zealand chairman Peter Johnston said. "The WRC promoters aren’t keen to go back to Coffs Harbour, so they are thinking that maybe there’s an opportunity for New Zealand.

"It would be for one year and we’ve got a lot of support from STEED [a branch of the Auckland Council]. The New Zealand general public is desperate to have it back, but we are looking for a sponsor and we have got Australia trying to retain the event for 2020.

"The Australians are fighting like crazy to retain the event there, but it would be wonderful to have it in New Zealand. This will be the last year at Coffs Harbour and they’ll have to move it, even for 2021. That’s easier said than done and we’re ready, we’ve got all the roads, we’ve got everything planned, we have good support, but we are after a naming rights sponsor."