Supercars teams mixed on international events

Supercars international races

Supercars at Bahrain in 2008

Team bosses have given a mixed view of on the prospect of foreign Supercars events as category chiefs reaffirm their interest in racing at the Singapore Grand Prix.

The 2023 Repco Supercars Championship calendar was held up by efforts on a deal with Singapore GP organisers and while success was not forthcoming on that occasion, the idea has not gone away.

It is a controversial one, with former team owner Roland Dane arguing via his Speedcafe column that flyaway events (save for neighbouring New Zealand) have already been proved unviable due to several impediments.

However, Barclay Nettlefold, Chairman of Supercars’ parent company RACE, claims there to be renewed interest in Supercars arising from Gen3 and also due a vacuum created by the demise of the World Touring Car Championship.

Tickford Racing Team Principal Tim Edwards sees potential in Singapore at least.

“That one certainly makes sense to me because there are a lot of expats there,” he told Speedcafe.

“It’s in the same timezone so that if you’re sitting in Melbourne, or you’re sitting in Perth or Adelaide – wherever you live – and there’s only one race in your backyard per year, and it’s still on at the same time on Saturday or Sunday afternoon, does it really matter whether it’s in Australia or overseas?

“It’s certainly a high-profile event to go somewhere like Singapore but the other thing I’d say is, look at the [Australian] Grand Prix. We can do a six-lap race there and it’s probably the biggest spectacle of the weekend.

“Our cars suit those Formula 1-style circuits because we can get three abreast – we can’t get three abreast when we go to Newcastle because it’s a very narrow track – so, we put on a different type of show there.

“I suppose if we were to go to somewhere like Singapore, potentially we’d put on a hell of a spectacle.”

PremiAir Racing team owner Peter Xiberras is sceptical due to the origin of the majority of sponsorships in pit lane.

“My view is 90, 98 percent of all sponsorship on everyone’s cars is homegrown, and unless there’s some funding from overseas, I can’t see how it’ll work,” he told Speedcafe.

“So, I’m happy to keep racing at home.”

While a number of Supercars teams sport commercial backing from global brands, they often originate from the Australian arm of the business/Australian distributor rather than head office.

Regardless of that, Team 18 owner Charlie Schwerkolt sees another benefit of foreign events, namely a perk for staff.

“Depending on the location, depending on the financial side, I actually think it’s a good thing,” he told Speedcafe.

“Yes, I’ve got global sponsors and all that, but if we did race overseas, we still get the television exposure, et cetera.

“Probably the biggest thing and the exciting thing for me going overseas is staff retention.

“I like looking after our people, we’ve got some great people in our team and great people are everywhere in my world, and going to Singapore, for instance, or wherever we go, our guys are going somewhere different in the world.

“They get paid to go there, they get accommodation and food and everything there, and I really think it’s special for them.

“It keeps them involved and interested instead of just going to the same races every year, same places… [it] spices it up a bit.

“So, I think there’s some attraction there for sure, as long as it doesn’t detract from the main game and what we’re doing.”

The Supercars Championship will be going ‘overseas’ for its next event, although staying in Australian territory, with the Ned Whisky Tasmania SuperSprint scheduled for May 19-21 at Symmons Plains.

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