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Cochrane: I’m taking a backseat role

Speedcafe.com

Monday 3rd May, 2010 - 5:00am

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V8 Supercars Chairman Tony Cochrane

V8 Supercars Australia Chairman Tony Cochrane

EXCLUSIVE: Cochrane’s last interview before three-month sabbatical

Tony Cochrane, the fearless Chairman and front man of the V8 Supercars since its inception in 1997, is taking his first extended break from the sport since his first involvement in the category.

In his only pre-sabbatical interview, Cochrane spoke exclusively to Speedcafe.com.au about a number of headlining issues that face the V8 Supercars Championship Series in the coming days, months and years.

Each day this working week, Speedcafe.com.au will bring you Cochrane’s thoughts and plans regarding a number of topics within the sport.

Tony Cochrane says his long reign as the front man for the V8 Supercars Championship Series is over after the series welcomed in new Chief Executive Officer Martin Whitaker at Queensland Raceway last weekend.

Cochrane, who has been seen as the spokesperson for the V8 Series since its inception in 1997, told Speedcafe.com.au that his presence as the face of V8’s off-track activities has ended, effective immediately.

“I would expect that my role that I’ve played in the past would be hugely diminished going forward,” he said.

“I’m quite happy with that, trust me. I’m not seeking to be the spokesperson for V8 Supercars in the future, and I’ll be delighted upon my return from my holiday if Martin has a good handle on that and I rarely have to raise my head up – and I expect he will.

”The fact that I won’t be here for the next three months enables him to move into that space and I know he’ll do a very good job of it.”

When Cochrane returns from his break, he will assume a more focused role on taking the sport to the next level.

“Those people that know me well know that what I’m really focused on is the behind the scenes work in advancing the sport,” he said.

“I’ll be out there finding the new deals going forward, making sure that we have all the t’s crossed and all the i’s dotted.”

In most major sports in Australia, the CEO is seen as the spokesperson for the sport – Andrew Demetriou (AFL), David Gallop (NRL) and James Sutherland (Cricket Australia). Cochrane admitted that his position as the Chairman/spokesman did not fit in with the lay of the land.

“The Chairman should not normally be the spokesperson,” he said.

“It’s gone that way in the past because I’ve played such a big role in that up until now, but there’s no need for me to continue in that public role.

“To be frank, I’m seeking a quieter life in the future in that regard. I have no issue whatsoever. In fact, I’m very much one of the big instigators in getting Martin into this role, and there’s no question that one of the things that he’s very good at, not just with the teams and the people in the championship, he’ll be a very, very good spokesperson and a very professional media operator.”

Cochrane expanded on his delight of Whitaker’s appointment.

“I’m a huge Martin Whitaker fan. He brings a tremendous level of motorsport business to V8 Supercars. He will do an absolutely superb job in that role,” he said.

“From our point of view, the fact that he is a very good communicator and that he would play the full CEO role and become much more the spokesperson for V8 Supercars was one of the big boxes that he ticked. One of the good things about me being away is that it gives Martin the room if you like to take up that mantle and run with that.

“The company is in great hands. Martin is on board now, Shane Howard (V8’s Chief Operating Officer) has done an absolutely first rate job. The management team at V8 Supercars is superb.

“The company is in great shape and I have every confidence that it will move forward and they’ll be some exciting announcements over the next two to three months. Everybody here has been working very hard behind the scenes on those announcements, and they are great announcements for not only V8 Supercars, but Australian motorsport.”

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