Luke West


Australian Muscle Car - - Induction -

VFe­bru­ary 8, 2015

8 Su­per­cars is fac­ing a pub­lic re­la­tions dis­as­ter early in 2015 over its decision to sched­ule its pre-sea­son test on the same week­end as the resur­gent Bathurst 12 Hour. Months after the 12 Hour’s date was locked in, V8 chiefs took the decision to use the same week­end for its an­nual test and sea­son launch. V8 Su­per­cars main­tains it was forced into run­ning its Syd­ney Mo­tor­sport Park test ear­lier in Fe­bru­ary based on the tim­ing of big sport­ing events, in­clud­ing the Cricket World Cup and Aus­tralian Open Ten­nis.

V8 chiefs say they ap­proached 12 Hour or­gan­is­ers about in­te­grat­ing the two events at Bathurst over Fe­bru­ary 7-8, with the event shown on V8 Su­per­cars’ new pay TV part­ner Fox Sports. Un­der­stand­ably, the 12 Hour de­clined, hav­ing part­nered up for 2015 with free-to-air net­work Seven. The rock around the clock’s first nine hours will be cov­ered by 7mate, with the fi­nal three hours on Seven’s main chan­nel – a much big­ger au­di­ence than if it was tele­vised on pay TV. This will be Seven’s first do­mes­tic mo­tor­sport event fol­low­ing the end of its V8 con­tract later this year.

12 Hour boss James O’Brien de­nies the in­te­gra­tion ap­proach, say­ing the V8 or­gan­i­sa­tion merely pitched its in-house TV pro­duc­tion unit to pro­duce cov­er­age of the GT race for Fox Sports.

It was fol­low­ing this re­jec­tion that V8 Su­per­cars an­nounced its an­nual com­pul­sory test would, for 2015, ex­pand to Sun­day. This ruled full-time V8 driv­ers out of the 12 Hour. So Craig Lown­des can’t de­fend his 12 Hour win and the likes of 2014 GT3 race com­peti­tors Shane van Gis­ber­gen, Will Dav­i­son and Rick Kelly can’t line-up for, re­spec­tively, their cur­rent spon­sors, teams and man­u­fac­tur­ers. Ere­bus Mo­tor­sport’s re­sources will be stretched thin and Nis­san have had to scut­tle their plans to ex­pand to a sec­ond GT-R GT3 as the Kelly team will be com­mit­ted at East­ern Creek.

A size­able por­tion of the V8 pit­lane has been ad­versely af­fected. VIP Pet­foods’ Tony Quinn can’t be happy van Gis­ber­gen is un­able to race his GT3 car.

The V8 test’s move to the 12 Hour week­end – and specif­i­cally to both days – looks for all the world like a de­lib­er­ate stunt to dam­age the 12 Hour’s suc­cess. Whether it’s per­cep­tion or re­al­ity, this is go­ing to bite V8 Su­per­cars in the bum. In the very least it’s an ar­ro­gant act that, I reckon, is go­ing to blow-up in the face of the V8 chiefs in­volved. V8 Su­per­car’s part­ing slap to Chan­nel Seven – its broad­cast part­ner of eight years – has riled vol­un­teer of­fi­cials and fans keen to at­tend both events.

It’s also a slap in the face to Bathurst Re­gional Coun­cil and the NSW Gov­ern­ment, who have both in­vested heav­ily in the Mount Panorama cir­cuit, a venue from which V8 Su­per­cars ben­e­fits so much.

NSW Premier Mike Baird ap­peared on my TV screen with V8 CEO James War­bur­ton just be­fore this year’s Su­percheap Auto Bathurst 1000 got un­der way. The Premier high­lighted dur­ing his visit to Bathurst the im­por­tance of Mount Panorama to NSW. Oh, re­ally?

If Mr Baird was do­ing his job – i.e. act­ing in the best in­ter­ests of the state’s in­vest­ments (Mount Panorama’s pit com­plex) and the fa­cil­i­ties it owns out­right (Syd­ney Mo­tor­sport Park) – he would have had a word in Mr War­bur­ton’s ear about mov­ing the date of the test. The clash de­tracts from both events.

I know I will be writ­ing to my lo­cal mem­ber ask­ing why a mo­tor rac­ing or­gan­i­sa­tion heav­ily re­liant on NSW Gov­ern­ment fund­ing has taken a decision that ad­versely af­fects so many. I’ll cc my email to Mr Baird, plus the Min­is­ter for Re­gional De­vel­op­ment and the Min­is­ter for Tourism. I know that the good peo­ple of Bathurst are un­happy that ‘poor’ V8 Su­per­car sched­ul­ing will rob the re­gion of much-needed vis­i­tors.

If you’re a Craig Lown­des fan up­set you won’t get to see him de­fend his 12-Hour win, maybe you should ask some ques­tions of his V8 boss Roland Dane.

Mr Dane has been painted as some­thing of a vic­tim in some sec­tions of the me­dia due to hav­ing to forgo plans to field a fac­tory GT3 team in the 12 Hour due to the date clash. How­ever, it should be noted that Mr Dane is a mem­ber of the V8 Su­per­car board. The same board that rub­ber-stamped the V8 Su­per­car cal­en­dar in­clu­sive of the test/launch week­end.

If you’re a CAMS of­fi­cial, per­haps you should ask some ques­tions why CAMS hasn’t stepped in to re­solve the clash? Surely avoid­ing hav­ing two 2015 sea­son ‘kick-off’ events in the same state on the same week­end is in the best in­ter­ests of its mem­bers?

It’s also time for the bulk of the Aus­tralian mo­tor­sport me­dia to grow some balls and write about the topic that en­thu­si­asts are most in­ter­ested in.

I’m not sure if it’s ar­ro­gance or ig­no­rance that has clouded V8 Su­per­cars’ judge­ment in this case. Or a stu­pen­dous ego or two.

What is ob­vi­ous is that V8 Su­per­cars has badly mis­read this sit­u­a­tion. In time, the ill-will this decision cre­ates will be­come ap­par­ent. There is much more to play out over the next three months.

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