A HUGE shipment of freight is on its way to the Coffs Coast of New South Wales to transform a quiet corner of the regional airport into a bustling hub for World Rally Championship (WRC) teams and spectators at Rally Australia on 8-11 September.
More than 170 tonnes of freight for teams and the official television production company recently left Argentina by sea and is expected to arrive early next month.
It will be unloaded and set up in the Service Park (similar to motor racing “pits”) at Coffs Harbour Regional Airport, where a field of up to 100 rally cars will be garaged, prepared, repaired and serviced throughout the event, round 10 of the WRC.
A further 65 tonnes, including rally cars and fresh spares, will be sent by air from the teams’ bases in Britain and France in the week before the rally.
Also to come by sea are thousands of competition tyres and litres of specially-formulated, high-performance petrol.
The hundreds of tonnes of freight heading for Rally Australia to support the teams highlight the scale of the biggest event the Coffs Coast has hosted.
Tens of thousands of international and Australian spectators, rally crews, supporters and officials are set to visit the region over more than a week.
Tickets to see the rally cars in action from dedicated spectator areas on the competitive Special Stages are on sale now from Ticketek.com.au.
The Service Park in the general aviation area at the northern end of the airport will be the centre of competitor activity throughout the rally.
Entry will be free and thousands of visitors are expected to see the rally cars coming and going and to shop for team and championship souvenirs.
The shipment from Argentina has been consigned on behalf of the Ford and Citroen manufacturer teams, plus the WRC production house North One Television.
After Rally Argentina, containers were packed with the teams’ “flyaway” kits, which are used for rallies outside Europe and beyond the range of road transport on the WRC’s 13-country annual tour.
The kits include specially-equipped road cars reserved for route reconnaissance, spare parts, tools, workshop and catering equipment, furniture and large tents.
When emptied of freight, the containers become workshops, offices and rest areas.
Full-time chefs set up kitchens to feed team members who work from early morning to late at night and to cater for any special dietary needs of drivers and co-drivers.
Within hours of the rally finish, the cars will be packed again and ready for shipment to the next round in France in three weeks’ time.
North One’s freight manifest includes much of the cameras, cables and studio equipment needed to produce the television reports sent daily to an expected total audience of more than 50 million viewers around the world.
Although Rally Australia is the most remote event on the WRC calendar, the freight logistics for all the flyaway rounds – the others are in Mexico, Jordan and Argentina – are managed by a company just a few hours’ drive from Coffs Harbour.
Brisbane-based White Knight Global Logistics specialises in motorsport freight and Managing Director Tony Vinson travels to rallies to oversee ground transport, customs and quarantine clearance, set-up and packing.
“Shipping rally cars and equipment is a specialised business,” Mr Vinson said.
“Teams can’t afford their freight to be late – if it was, they would not be able to compete.
“When fully set up and crowded with rally cars coming and going during the rally, the Service Park is an impressive and exciting place to be.
“I’m sure it will attract many spectators at Rally Australia.”