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Supercars AGP championship round edging closer

Tom Howard

Thursday 30th March, 2017 - 4:00am

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Supercars impressed Formula 1’s new owners Liberty Media

The prospect of a Supercars championship round at next year’s Australian Grand Prix is gathering momentum after race organisers opened talks with Formula 1’s new owners.

The Australian Grand Prix Corporation (AGPC) chose last weekend’s Albert Park season opener to discuss ways to improve the event with F1’s new custodians Liberty Media.

Upgrading Supercars’ involvement to championship status was among the items on the agenda as the AGPC and Liberty Media aims to improve the fan experience at future editions of the Australian Grand Prix.

Supercars has been pushing for several years to upgrade the annual Albert Park meeting to a championship round, but previous attempts have been blocked by Formula 1 management.

However, F1’s new owners appear more receptive to the idea having been impressed by the category last weekend.

Following discussions involving Supercars, AGPC chief executive Andrew Westacott says Liberty Media has recognised the importance of the series to Australian motorsport fans and the future growth of the event.

“Supercars was definitely part of the discussion under the banner of the fan experience and they (Liberty Media) walk away knowing and understanding that Supercars is a part of the Australian motorsport heritage,” Westacott told Speedcafe.com.

“They (Liberty Media) saw the professionalism, the colour and the excitement of Supercars and what it can do to the fanbase.

“People who love Supercars, love motorsport too and that is important for Formula 1.”

The next key objective is to ascertain a suitable race format to fit into the Australian Grand Prix schedule, which will be discussed over the coming months.

Last weekend saw the category contest four 13 lap sprint races.

“We will work with Liberty Media and James Warburton at Supercars,” added Westacott.

“We have got to look at the whole format of the weekend, not because its changing, but to work out what the optimum race distance is.

“We have got to look at how it fits with all sorts of things. There are lots of things to do but it is very optimistic and positive.”

Supercars boss James Warburton will continue to work with the AGPC and remains hopeful a championship round can be achieved in 2018.

“Firstly I think the weekend’s races showed that it doesn’t matter whether it’s championship or not,” said Warburton.

“The action is certainly an incredible show that all the drivers put on, but we had some very good meetings with the new owners of Formula 1 and they’ve got a completely different style, and we had some very, very positive discussions about the future.

“Ultimately it’s the Australian Grand Prix Corporation, Andrew Westacott and his team’s event, and we’ll continue to work with them, and we’re very hopeful that obviously championship status can be achieved.

“There is nothing to report yet other than positive meetings and I think we’ll be in good shape hopefully for 2018.”

Meanwhile, Westacott admitted dialogue between Liberty Media regarding this year’s Australian Grand Prix was positive.

“The dialogue has been proactive it has been inclusive and positive in all regards,” said Westacott.

“They (Liberty Media) very much want to make sure they leverage events and grow it with digital activity and grow it by doing things that benefit the promoter and benefit the sport.

“While nothing was tangibly decided, there was so much common understanding on how to deliver an event.

“They weren’t descriptive in what they liked and didn’t like but they were commenting on the huge range of activities we have.

“We will work even more closely than we ever have before to extract the things that they want us to dial up and dial up the things we want to to do.”

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