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A war of words has erupted in Surfers
A WAR of words has erupted between Bartercard Australia and Bartercard International over a key Indy sponsorship deal.

After a stinging attack yesterday by Bartercard International boss Wayne Sharpe on Indy race organizers and politicians and a claim the 2009 Indy would not proceed next year, Bartercard Australia quickly distanced itself from the comments and reconfirmed its commitment to the event.

Bartercard Australia chairman Murray d'Almeida dismissed the comments and said Mr. Sharpe played no role in Bartercard Australia -- a major sponsor of the event.

"Let me make this very clear and unequivocal -- Mr. Sharpe is not directly associated with (us), is not a shareholder and has made a statement that was totally unauthorized and does not reflect this company's opinion," said Mr. d'Almeida.

"Bartercard International has not put one dollar into this event, this event has been 100 per cent funded by Bartercard Australia."

Mr. Sharpe had told The Bulletin that Indy Racing League officials had no intention of returning to Surfers Paradise and he already had plans to switch sponsorship to European motorsport events.

The Monaco-based businessman, who founded the company on the Gold Coast, claimed millions of dollars in sponsorship and the future of the institution of Miss Indy were on the line.

Mr. d'Almeida yesterday stopped short of confirming his company's sponsorship of a motorsport event on the Gold Coast next year.

"Like all sponsors we are anxiously waiting to see the opportunity next year and ... when these situations have happened in the past we have just waited for the negotiations to complete."

He said Bartercard Australia had total support for the State Government and the Indy board to secure the event's future.

Mr. Sharpe stood by his comments, saying Indy would not proceed next year on the Gold Coast and questioned why Bartercard Australia had not committed to a sponsorship of the 2009 event.

Meanwhile, negotiations on Indy's future in Surfers Paradise next year continued yesterday. IRL's president of its commercial division Terry Angstadt declined to reveal if the parties had come any closer on possible dates for next year's event.

"We're making progress," said Mr. Angstadt.

IndyCar team owner and heavyweight Kevin Kalkhoven showed IRL boss Tony George -- visiting the Gold Coast for the first time -- the best of the region by boat and helicopter yesterday to help forge an impression of the area and the event in Mr. George's mind.

Despite suggestions that the IRL was reconsidering its commitment to the Surfers race because of the money and logistics involved in coming here, Mr. Kalkhoven maintained the IRL's doubts were not just about money.

"Tony George wants to finish off his season properly in the States and then it's just a question of fitting with the rest of the calendar."

The billionaire Team Australia owner was confident that local organizers, the State Government and the IRL were negotiating in the 'best faith'. More at Goldcoast.com

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