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Rally Australia and WRC crews mobilize to support bushfire victims

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A host of support initiatives by the event organisers was launched almost immediately after the planned WRC season-closing round on the fire-affected New South Wales north coast was cancelled on Tuesday.

Yesterday, world rally drivers autographed thousands of dollars worth of unsold souvenirs to donate to fire victims and emergency workers and to be auctioned on-line.

The first was distributed at the Rural Fire Service base in Coffs Harbour by drivers Jari-Matti Latvala, Kris Meeke and Thierry Neuville and co-drivers Nicolas Gilsoul and Miikka Anttila.

At a thank-you function for hundreds of volunteer rally officials, six-time World Champion Sébastien Ogier announced he would give 10,000 euros to care for injured wildlife. Ogier’s teammate Esapekka Lappi and new world champion Ott Tänak also attended.

Today, Rally Australia presented a cheque for $11,000 as an initial donation to Red Cross. It was accompanied by a pledge from the owner of four McDonald’s restaurants, Dave Munro, to match donations made on Saturday’s McHappy Day.

Drivers Elfyn Evans, Craig Breen and Teemu Suninen gave their support, along with co-drivers Jarmo Lehtinen and Scott Martin.

Event Chairman Andrew Papadopoulos said the rally community had responded magnificently to the crisis.

“Drivers, team members and other international visitors were deeply affected by their experience here this week and all expressed their desire to help the Coffs Coast community that has welcomed the World Rally Championship since 2011. Many Australian competitors have also contributed by pledging their entry fee refunds,” he said.

Other rally initiatives for bushfire aid included a thank-you lunch for around 300 emergency services workers and those affected by the bushfires on Friday and Sunday, organised by the Rural Fire Service and other emergency service organisations with unused food and beverages provided by Rally Australia.

On Saturday night, a free fund-raising concert by rock band Dragon at C.ex Coffs club will allow to collect contributions from attendees to donate to Red Cross.

The public can make donations at

View the photo gallery here.