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HomeNewsCochrane blasts critics of Supercars going global

Cochrane blasts critics of Supercars going global

FORMER Supercars supremo Tony Cochrane has taken aim at detractors of efforts to re-internationalise the championship.

Plans to get the Repco Supercars Championship onto the undercard of the Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix were met with a fan backlash.

That prospect appears to be on the backburner until at least 2025, but Cochrane urged all parties to not be blind to the obvious upside of going abroad once more.

It was under Cochrane’s watch that Supercars competed on the global stage in countries such as China, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

“We quadrupled our global TV audience in the space of a year,” the respected ex-Supercars chairman said on this week’s V8 Sleuth Podcast polished by Bowden’s Own.

When nudged about how fans bristle at the overseas concept, Cochrane interjected: “Well, they’re mad. What’s your problem?

“If you’re a fan – and I’m really in the fan corner, let me tell you, I’m pretty rusted on there and a part of that fan group – I don’t understand the problem from a fan point of view because V8 Supercars race across Australia. Are you trying to tell me every fan goes to every race? Of course they don’t.

“Fans go to races near them and they might pick one other special race for the year and go to that. So most of their watching is done via TV.

“Now provided – and there’s my big proviso – provided you’re giving them good and easy access to watch the racing, then does it really matter if they’re in Abu Dhabi or they’re in Auckland or they’re in Taupo or they’re in Timbuktu? Of course it doesn’t.”

He noted how Australians often watch various sports late at night and declared previous overseas races did not disenfranchise any fans.

“In fact, I’ve met many fans who did make the effort and travel to one of those events and had an absolute ball and loved it,” said Cochrane.

“And from our point of view back then, it was mission critical in trying to grow our sport globally – and this is where I disagree so strongly with Roland Dane… because it really helps grow your sponsorship base.

“You have suddenly got something that, in the case of the Triple Eight car for instance, it has got Red Bull all over it – well, Red Bull is not sold exclusively in Australia, you can buy Red Bull everywhere in the world.

“So that exposure through a big TV audience globally can’t do the teams any harm.

“Financially it was fantastic for our sport. Every team made a lot of money out of it, I know because I signed the cheques, and the sport did really well out of it financially.

“So I don’t accept this crap that Supercars or whatever it’s called now cannot race at the Singapore Grand Prix or race at the Italian Grand Prix or race in South Africa or race in Antarctica.

V8 Supercars action in China in 2005. Pic: an1images.com / Justin Deeley

“If it makes commercial sense, and you have got a good television package to carry it back here live in Australia, go for it.

“…I’d sit here and argue ‘til midnight to defend very strongly that the more you internationalise and more profile you give to your sport, the better off it is for it.”

Cochrane further argued that internationalisation added weight to dealing with governments and the FIA, and also put a spring in the step of many in pitlane.

“I’m not going to buy into this crap that V8s has to exist purely on Australian soil and can’t go anywhere else and everything else was a disaster. It wasn’t a disaster,” he reiterated.

In an engaging Part 1 of the episode, Cochrane then revealed how an offshoot Supercars series was investigated for China/Hong Kong.

“We had a Chinese investment group out of Hong Kong who had a very, very serious look at a big investment about us doing a race in Hong Kong,” he said.

“In fact, I’m pretty confident Shane Howard and myself and maybe one other went up and actually looked at a possible couple of street circuits because Hong Kong clearly doesn’t have a permanent motorsport circuit – Zhuhai is but it’s a long way from Hong Kong.

“This group were looking to buy 18 cars off of us and we would help them with IP and help them with development and start a racing series for young Chinese drivers in China, because by this stage they had some good quality circuits.

“We actually did a whole SWOT exercise on it and costed it and we were going to have four or five of our teams who were going to make a couple of cars each and sell them to these guys and we were going to loan engineers for six-month periods and stuff like this.

“It was a bit of a SWOT exercise, they paid for the exercise, USD100,000 or something at the time.

“It never went anywhere, it died on the vine, I can’t remember why it died on the vine to be truthful now but it did… it never got off the ground.”

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