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McGrath rallies to challenge

AN EVENT worth up to $20 million to the local economy is very important.

When the event also provides enormous international exposure for the area, laying the

platform for future growth, it becomes extremely important.

The new executive director of Telstra Rally Australia Don McGrath is well aware that the success of this popular round of the World Rally Championships over the next two years could determine whether it remains in Perth.

Melbourne’s attempt earlier this year to snare the event would be the prelude to further bids from around the world, Mr McGrath said.

“Melbourne won’t be the last,” he said.

However, he was not especially perturbed about threats to Perth’s ability to stage the event. His approach to his three-year contract was simple: make it too good to be taken away

“We must not let that get in the way of what we are trying to achieve,” he said.

“As long as we keep our eye on the ball, we will make it any decision to take it away much harder.”

This would be achieved by ensuring the organisation and ‘off the field’ aspect of the event was as polished and professional as the racing.

“The foundation is already very strong,” Mr McGrath said.

“My role will be to steer the ship and ensure the event side matches the sporting side and integrate the two.

“The sporting side is without doubt the best in the world – that is why it won Rally of the Year in 1999.

“We have to take that and apply it to the event and make the profile greater.

“New television and marketing rights owner David Richards has indicated that he wants to increase the sport’s profile to the level of Formula One racing,” he said.

An extensive background in event management over the past 10 years should provide Mr McGrath with good foundation to achieve that.

He has been involved in international events such as the 1997 World Triathlon Champion-ships, the Hockey Champions Trophy, World Mountain Bike Championships and the World Mountain Bike Cup.

There are a number of changes planned for the race on November 9 to increase its appeal.

“The Langley Park Super-stage is being redesigned to put the grandstands and spectators much closer to the action,” Mr McGrath said.

“In effect, we’ll create a motorsport amphitheatre, with giant video screens and all the activity taking place virtually right in front of you.”

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