A SENIOR official of motor sport's controlling body, FISA, will travel as an observer during the 555 Hong Kong to Beijing Rally, which begins with a ceremonial flag-off at the Ocean Terminal on October 23. Frenchman Christophe Goutard, son of FISA Rally Commission chairman Guy, will assess the event in a number of areas before reporting back to the committee. His assessment will decide whether or not the Hong Kong to Beijing event becomes a leg of the Asia-Pacific Series next year, featuring legs in New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. Goutard's main task will be to assess the quality of the logistics, safety and communications of the event. Unlike the other five Asia-Pacific Series events, the Hong Kong to Beijing is a straight-line race with special stages held along the route. Though the rally includes no more special stages than other legs of the Asia-Pacific Series, the 3,800-kilometre journey to Beijing creates special logistical problems for support vehicles to follow the event. Willard Martin, the manager of the New Zealand Rally for the past 11 years, believes the unusual nature of the Hong Kong to Beijing event gives it special appeal for the Asia-Pacific Series. Martin has been employed by the rally organisers to oversee the event and assist with his expertise. ''It's certainly something different and will help to broaden the appeal of the Asia-Pacific Series,'' he said. Martin believes the rally will also appeal to manufacturers because of the huge market potential in Hong Kong and mainland China.