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Australian GP boss to Shahin: ‘He’s dreaming’

Mat Coch

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Sunday 4th October, 2020 - 6:00am

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The start of the 1995 Australian Grand Prix, the final race in Adelaide

The boss of the Australian Formula 1 and motorcycle grands prix has said that Sam Shahin is “dreaming” if he thinks he can lure the events to The Bend.

Both events have contracts which will keep them in Victoria until 2025 and 2026 respectively, though Shahin and South Australian Premier Steven Marshall have floated the concept of The Bend hosting them in future.

“There was a famous line in The Castle that says, ‘Tell him he’s dreaming’,” Westacott told Speedcafe.com.

“The strength of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation’s relationship with Dorna (MotoGP) and Formula 1 has never been stronger.

“We’ve got a MotoGP contract at Philip Island, down until 2026. It is one of the most picturesque circuits in the world for MotoGP.

“It’s a feature of Victoria’s tourism from a Phillip Island, Penguin Parade, and branding point of view; our beautiful coastline.

“Whilst lots of other states would covet MotoGP and Formula 1, it’s not going anywhere.”

The prospect of an F1 return to South Australia reared its head in August following comments Shahin made to an Adelaide radio station.

That was fuelled by subsequent comments made by South Australian Premier Steven Marshall, who pointed to The Bend as SA’s only option for an F1 return.

“We don’t have the ability to put together a street circuit which would be suitable for Formula 1, but Formula 1 requires a different type of circuit for what we have for Supercars in SA,” Premier Marshall said.

“The only option for Formula 1 to come to SA would be at The Bend.”

Shahin has also stated that his venue, located about 100km out of Adelaide, has been visited by MotoGP officials.

South Australia has never hosted world championship motorcycle racing, while its last Formula 1 event came in 1995 after which it moved to Melbourne.

Despite the passing years, animosity has remained strong as a result of the perceived theft of the event.

Adelaide had been contracted to continue hosting F1 until the end of 1996.

Victoria had swooped on the race in 1993, after South Australia dallied on inking a new deal.

That came in the wake of Premier John Bannon, a key player in bringing the event to Adelaide, resigning from office in 1992 and the collapse of the State Bank of South Australia a year earlier which left SA to underwrite $3 billion of debt.

At the same time, Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett was looking for major events to reinvigorate the state.

Ron Walker visited Bernie Ecclestone, the sport’s then supremo, in London and a deal was signed in mid-1993.

It then came to light following the 1993 South Australian state election in December that Melbourne had secured the rights to the race from 1997.

With the writing on the wall, and the prospect of Melbourne hosting a ‘Pacific’ Grand Prix in competition to the Australian Grand Prix in 1996, officials in Adelaide elected to end the contract early and sell what infrastructure it could to Victoria.

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