V8 Supercar series here to stay: official

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 11 June, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 11 June, 2005, 12:00am

Australia's domestic buzz motorsport series, the V8 Supercar Championship, will not be a one-hit wonder, the organisers said yesterday.

Wayne Cattach, the chief executive of Australia V8 Supercar Company, said he had secured a five-year deal with a local promoter for the event, which makes its debut at the Shanghai International Circuit this weekend.

The fifth round of the championship is being held for the first time outside Australasia and Cattach is hopeful local motorsport fans will turn out in numbers.

'We're mainly a domestic championship and have no intention to clash head on with such global giants as Formula One. But the expansion into China might bring added value to our sponsors and hopefully hook up some potential local business interests here as well,' said Cattach.

The first ever Formula One race in China, staged last September, attracted a crowd of 150,000. Michael Schumacher and Ferrari are more familiar names to local fans than Marcos Ambrose and Stone Brothers Racing, the all conquering champion in the series.

Last month, less than 25,000 fans turned up for inaugural China MotoGP at the Shanghai circuit, but organisers are hoping for a better turnout tomorrow, despite there being no Chinese drivers.

'I would very much like to see Chinese racers in the Supercars in near future, which could definitely help us sell this event,' Cattach said. 'We're already in talks with our Chinese partners over possibilities of recruiting some Chinese pilots into our driving academy and junior feed series.

'I think it will take more time for the Supercars, as well as other overseas motorsport imports, to take hold in China.'

'But the more Chinese experience the pulses of international motorsport on the spot themselves, the more quickly will your own racing industry grow,' he added.

The 13-round Supercar series travels out of Australia twice this season, with Shanghai and Auckland, New Zealand, the only two 'international' stops. The Shanghai round consists of three races - each of around 150 kilometres. The first race will be today with the other two races tomorrow.