Cochrane defiant over Gold Coast 600’s future

Tony Cochrane flanked at today's 2012 event launch by James Courtney (left) and Rick Kelly

Tony Cochrane flanked at today’s 2012 event launch by James Courtney (left) and Rick Kelly

Political maneuvering over the Armor All Gold Coast 600 has ramped up, with V8 Supercars chairman Tony Cochrane strongly defending the event’s future.

Speaking at the announcement of the latest three international drivers – Marco Andretti, Darren Turner and Nick Heidfeld – to join the race, Cochrane immediately sang the praises of the event when challenged over just how safe its future is.

With the new LNP Queensland Government in power and making noises about slashing jobs and cutting expenditure in the public sector, motor racing events like the Gold Coast 600 and Townsville 400 are seen to be in the hair-trigger of fat trimming measures.

The Government is essentially sticking with a two-year deal for the Gold Coast race (one year with a one year option to extend), but has stopped short of talking about longer term deals.

By contrast, V8 Supercars enjoys contracts spanning five years or longer with many of the other venues on its 16-event calendar.

V8 Supercars chairman Tony Cochrane said the GC600 is slowly returning to the halcyon days of the Surfers Paradise race, despite the lack of  the American open-wheel racing that underpinned its former success.

Cochrane supported his claim of a revival by stating that 81 per cent of corporate tickets have already been sold ahead of October.

“We’ll sit down at the start of next year and look at the future,” Cochrane told of the GC600’s future.

“But you’ve got to understand that with a $55 million drop (economic impact) on the Gold Coast last year this event has the best return on investment of any event conducted in Queensland each year.

“It more than stands on its own two feet and is worth a lot of money to the Gold Coast tourism sector.

“I’m very confident this event will stand any sort of scrutiny going forward in the future.

“What it can’t withstand is the funding that is required to bring something back like IndyCar.

“I’m not concerned about the future of the event because of the return on investment argument and the fact that the Newman Government have really stepped up to the plate and are going to be a major supporter of tourism in Queensland.”

Queensland’s minister for Tourism and Major Events Jann Stuckey said the event is safe until 2013 but will enter into negotiations with V8 Supercars for possible extensions from 2014.

“The Government will continue support for the race this year and is guaranteed into 2013 as well,” the minister said.

“The mood of the Government is to support major events. We are very aware of making tourism one of the four pillars that we took to the election.

“This Government through Events Queensland is supporting events like this through our four-pillar approach to kick-start the Queensland economy and re-establish this state as Australia’s No 1 tourist destination.”

It is not expected that the Gold Coast light rail project currently being constructed with have an impact on this year’s event from October 19-21 but it may become an issue next year.

“The light rail project is disrupting a lot of businesses in its construction and that will be a consideration for future events because it is a permanent infrastructure,” said Stuckey.

CLICK HERE for news of the three latest GC600 driver signings from today’s announcement

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