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Should the V8s dump the Grand Prix?

The big question

Source: BigPond Sport
By Ben Hocking

melbournegpf11.thumbnailThis year's V8 Supercar calendar will incorporate 15 championship rounds in up to four countries, with further expansion overseas already planned for next season with a race in the US. On top of all this action, teams are expected to front up to this weekend's Australian Grand Prix and put on a show that means nothing for the championship, but that has proven costly in terms of repairs.

Are the F1 support races a worthwhile investment to attract new interest to the sport, or has the championship become too big to be a support act? Check out the case for and against.
For

Last year 298,000 people attended the AGP over the four days of the event. Many of these patrons would not be V8 Supercar fans. This gives the category a chance to pitch itself to a brand new audience, which is already receptive to motorsport, and try to win a new fan base.

Perhaps more important than the fans are the corporate sponsors that turn out to watch the Formula One spectacle each year. Teams are always seeking out new sponsorship markets and as the V8 Supercar championship becomes increasingly international, the chance to showcase what it has to offer in front of some big name sponsors could become very valuable.

V8 Supercar teams now have three rounds that require co-drivers to team with regular season drivers: the Bathurst 1000, the Sandown 500 and the Gold Coast 600. The last of these requires V8 teams to secure an international co-driver to share the car. Last year Tony D'Alberto secured F1 driver Vitantonio Liuzzi for the Gold Coast race, and you can bet many more teams will be doing their best to work the grid to try and find drivers this year, an opportunity that would be very difficult if they were not on the race program.

Another benefit of being in close proximity to the F1 circus is the chance for mechanics and work crews to rub shoulders with their F1 counterparts. Some are seeking to work their way up to the big league, but it's also a chance for V8 teams to poach talent who may be looking for a less stressful career in motorsport.

Against

The expenses for V8 teams are continuing to rise and while the Car of the Future regulations will aim to bring technical costs down next year, it won't help with all of the travel. Taking the cars to Abu Dhabi and the United States doesn't come cheap and even the task of getting the cars to New Zealand, Tasmania and Western Australia is a major exercise. All of this is happening at a time when companies are winding back on sponsorship and advertising as economic conditions continue to worsen globally.

Apart from the added expense, there is also the added stress on teams of another weekend away from their families - with no championship points at stake. The calendar is already quite large and there are plans to expand even more in the coming years. Dropping the AGP support race at least frees up one weekend for future races, without losing anything from the championship.

This weekend's race takes place just two weeks before the round in Tasmania. Cars have to be in race condition to be on the ship to Tassie well before then and any damage incurred at Albert Park can put a team well behind the eight-ball in the championship. That fact often means the racing at Albert Park is not up to the highest standard as teams are unwilling to take many risks, which may explain why there has yet to be a memorable V8 race at Albert Park.

Our verdict


The best solution would be for Channel 10 to get the rights for the V8 Supercars in the next broadcast agreement, which would remove the only obstacle - Channel Seven's existing deal - to the F1 support races becoming a part of the championship. If this happens, the V8s should definitely add Albert Park as a round of the championship.

If, however, the V8 races are forced to stay as a non-championship rounds the benefits still far outweigh the additional costs to teams. The Car of the Future regulations are a chance to show more casual motorsport fans that the domestic category has changed with more manufacturers embracing the sport. This may attract more fans, which would mean that the rules are working.
 
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Favourite V8 Supercar Driver

James Courtney - 7.9%
Garth Tander - 9.5%
Tony D'Alberto - 0%
Alex Davison - 0%
Mark Winterbottom - 6.3%
Will Davison - 0%
Todd Kelly - 3.2%
Jason Bright - 1.6%
Shane Van Gisbergen - 1.6%
Greg Murphy - 0%
Dean Fiore - 0%
Jason Bargwanna - 0%
Rick Kelly - 4.8%
David Reynolds - 4.8%
Steve Johnson - 0%
James Moffat - 0%
Jonathon Webb - 0%
Karl Reindler - 0%
Warren Luff - 0%
Lee Holdsworth - 6.3%
Russell Ingall - 3.2%
Tim Slade - 0%
Steve Owen - 0%
Paul Dunbrell - 1.6%
Fabian Coulthard - 3.2%
Jamie Whincup - 14.3%
Craig Lowndes - 31.7%
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