World Rally cancelled

The final leg of the World Rally Championships was supposed to start this week.

Merchandise stalls have been cropping up all over Coffs in spite of the looming smoke.

But the fastest cars in the world have today been stopped in their tracks.

Organisers met today to discuss whether the event should go ahead amidst the worst bush fires this state has ever seen.

Just yesterday they announced the Rally would go ahead and organisers were working toward a revised schedule and a reduced route of around 90 kilometres comprising multiple runs over four different stages.

One of those stages was indicated to be a gravel section of Graces Rd in Argents Hill, with no spectator facilities made available.

But the decision to cancel was announced today after extensive consultation with the NSW Government, the international motor sports governing body FIA, emergency services and the local community.

Event Chairman Andrew Papadopoulos said the cancellation was the only course available, considering the safety of the more than 1000 people involved as officials, competitors and in support roles.

"Considering the best interests and safety of everyone involved in the rally, and of course the wider community, it is not appropriate to conduct the rally," he said.

"Our thoughts are with the NSW community, especially the people who have lost loved ones, livelihoods and homes as a result of the fires in northern NSW, and we thank the Rally community for your support and understanding."

According to Motorsport News, teams were privately angry it took this long to make a decision on something which was obvious to anyone paying attention to the weather predictions.

"We have been watching to the TV and we see fire and rescue crews so tired they can't stand up, but we are thinking to ask them to come and sit at the side of the road so we can have a rally," a WRC team member told Motorsport News.

"We have seen people's homes, farms, animals, everything is burning and we are talking about running some stupid stages for three days."

Plus travel to Coffs Harbour is increasingly difficult with flights out of Sydney delayed amid speculation the airport in Coffs will be closed.

The Pacific Highway has also been closed in parts since Friday.

Ticketholders, officials, volunteers and the community can contact Rally Australia for more information at (02) 6648 4972 or services@rallyaustralia.com.au

Also in the news