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DATE News (chronologically)
10/17/11
irl
v8
IndyCar drivers may pull out of Gold Coast V8s
V8 Supercars boss Tony Cochrane says he'll fully support any drivers who pull out of this weekend's Gold Coast 600 following the tragic death of Englishman Dan Wheldon.

Wheldon - who was scheduled to contest the Gold Coast V8 Supercars round as co-driver with Holden star James Courtney - died after being caught up in a horror multi-car crash in the IndyCar season finale in Las Vegas on Monday morning (AEDT).

An emotional Cochrane said he would be "shocked" if Australian Will Power competed in the Gold Coast after he injured his back in the fiery crash, which involved 15 of the 34 cars in the race.

Wheldon and Power were part of a six-strong IndyCar drivers contingent set to contest the Gold Coast 600 as co-drivers to V8 stars.

In all, 28 international drivers are booked to feature on the tourist strip this weekend - but Cochrane said he'd understand if there were withdrawals.

"If any driver wishes to pull out in respect, we would fully appreciate and understand that and be as supportive as we can," Cochrane said on Monday.

"And we will find replacement drivers for anyone who wishes to drop out this weekend.

"We will cross that bridge and worry about that when we get over the initial shock and deal with it in due course."

On Power's availability, Cochrane added: "I would be highly shocked if Will was to also be part of this coming weekend."

The popular Power was set to partner leading Ford driver Mark Winterbottom for the second straight year at the Gold Coast.

Despite the uncertainty, Cochrane said there was "no chance" they would scrap the international co-drivers concept from this weekend's round.

"Dan wouldn't want that either," Cochrane said.

The V8 boss said a special service for Wheldon would be held on Saturday morning at the Gold Coast track.

"We want his friends in the V8 Supercar family to have a chance to say their goodbyes," he said.

"Dan was a tremendous friend of many people in the V8 Supercar family.

"He was very much looking forward to having his first fair dinkum go in a V8 Supercar this coming weekend.

"We have just been reminded in the most tragic of circumstances what can happen in motorsport.

"This is a terrible day for us." Sydney Morning Herald

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