Cochrane: The IRL cannot hold Surfers race hostage
V8 Supercars Australia chairman Tony Cochrane has said that, while he still hopes that the IndyCar Series can join the national tin-top series on the bill at Surfers Paradise, the Americans must not be allowed to hold the event to ransom over dates.
The 2008 Gold Coast event, branded the Nikon Indy 300 after an injection of sponsorship, will see the IRL replace the now defunct Champ Car World Series as co-headliner alongside the V8s for the first time, but the event will likely be a non-championship affair - and there is currently no place on the 2009 schedule for the Australian round.
The main sticking point is the Gold Coast event's traditional October date, which falls outside of the planned IndyCar calendar but suits the locals just fine. Although the event was awarded a long contract to stage a round of the amalgamated IndyCar Series as one of just three events to initially be accepted from the ruins of Champ Car, it was missing from the 2009 schedule issued last month and may not be included unless the impasse can be overcome.
Current speculation sees the Indy 300 slotting in alongside the rescheduled Motegi event to form a 'flyaway' double-header but, according to Cochrane, the two alternative dates offered by the IRL are far from suitable, and he insists that the long-standing carnival should not be dictated to when it came to finding a compromise.
"I have read with interest the many comments - and considerable garbage - written concerning the proposed date problem associated with the Gold Coast Indy event for 2009 and beyond," Cochrane wrote in an open letter obtained by Crash.net, "Both the government and the GCMEC have bent over backwards in trying to accommodate the new IRL's interests in working out a suitable date for 2008-2009.
"Despite the event being held in late October for nearly ten years, suddenly the IRL, incredulously, offer two dates well outside this traditional period - one in March which clashes with a major Australian motorsport event which involves both V8 Supercars and the 7 Network, and another which not only clashes with the AFL and NRL final series, but would be in the middle of the September school holidays!"
Clearly unhappy with what has been tabled by the IRL, Cochrane issued a subtle reminder that the American series is not the only one that the event would countenance including on its bill. The burgeoning A1 Grand Prix series, which currently lacks an Australian round, has been mooted as potential alternative should a compromise not be found for 2009.
"V8 Supercars recognizes the event requires both V8s and an international series to make this unique event work," the missive continues, "If the IRL cannot see fit to honor a long-standing agreement on the date, then there are many other world class international series of motorsports that would readily fit the bill.
"At the end of the day, I hope common sense prevails and the event continues as a joint round of V8 Supercars and the IRL. However, I don't subscribe to the event being held ransom to a date that will bankrupt GCMEC, and neither should the Gold Coast community, especially when we have viable alternatives! Our American friends owe both the community and the event more than that, given the support the event has given them." Crash.net