Pedal to the Metal for First Race of A1GP Season Five

One of the biggest mistakes in IRL history was letting the hugely popular Surfers Paradise race fall into the hands of A1GP

A spectacular 24-strong parachute drop over Main Beach this morning heralded the official launch of a ‘new era’ for Australia’s premier motorsport event – the Nitro SuperGP on Queensland’s Gold Coast – which will kick off Season Five of A1GP World Cup of Motorsport later this year.

Now less than 100 days away from the starter’s flag, the Nitro SuperGP will see more than 20 nations battle head-to-head when A1GP joins the Australian V8 Supercars Championship Series on the streets of Surfers Paradise from October 22-25.

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said for the 19th year in a row the world’s motorsport spotlight would shine on the Gold Coast event – making it one of the longest-running and most successful of its kind in the world.

“The Gold Coast has become a permanent fixture on the international motorsport circuit and the festival has been entertaining locals and visitors alike for nearly two decades. And this year is expected to be bigger and better with the sleek, Ferrari-powered A1GPs mixing it with the pure muscle and brute force of our home-grown V8 Supercars," said Ms Bligh.

A1GP Chairman, Tony Teixeira, explained just what this meant to the series: “I am still pinching myself that we have managed to do a deal to bring our Powered by Ferrari cars to such an iconic event. The Nitro SuperGP is one of the most eagerly awaited events in A1GP history and I know the reputation of this event worldwide is incredible. I cannot count the number of people who have told me that I shall be blown away by the superb organization, the loyal fans, the great racing and the knowledgeable media. I don’t doubt any of these claims.

Joining the launch celebration was Gold Coast resident and Seat Holder for A1 Team Australia, Alan Jones. For once he was delighted to have his photo taken with one of his arch rivals, as the A1 Team Malaysia car had been flown out from the UK so the locals could view the sort of machinery they can expect to see on their streets in October.

Explaining more about what the event means to the area Ms Bligh said: “Over 300,000 are expected to attend the 2009 Nitro SuperGP, not to mention the 700 international media that will take this great city to the world. And this attention brings big business to the Gold Coast and Queensland.

“Our hotels and hospitality industry will benefit from more than 173,000 visitor nights; locals will benefit from the equivalent of over 550 casual, full-time jobs; and the Queensland economy will get a $60 million shot in the arm.

“Events like this are the lifeblood of Queensland tourism meccas like the Gold Coast and the Government is proud to continue its support of the motorsport festival," she said.

Nitro SuperGP Chairman Terry Mackenroth echoed the sentiments of the Premier and unveiled details of an enhanced race program for the event.

“The 2009 race program will provide fans with more racing than ever before," said Mackenroth.

“Thursday for the first time will see open-wheel action, with the first practice session of A1GP, as well as actual open-wheel racing on both the Saturday and Sunday, while the V8 Supercars take to the track for two 200km races after completing practice and the first stage of qualifying on Friday," said Mackenroth.

“This exciting new race format will provide more on-track action and racing to our spectators than ever before and deliver great value for money for everyone.

“Expanding on the race program developments, 2009 also sees major works to the pit area and, after 18-years, an investment in a completely new hospitality and pit garage facility."

Also on hand to witness the spectacle along with the invited guests were V8 Supercar drivers Alex Davison, Shane van Gisbergen, Michael Patrizi, Fabian Coulthard, as well as the first of the official Nitro SuperGP ambassadors.

Event organizers are selecting ‘ambassadors’ for each nation from the community to cheer on their team during and in the lead-up to the October 22-25 event.

Serginho van Dijk of the Brisbane Roar and Joey Wright, coach of the Gold Coast Blaze, were in attendance at the event launch as the ambassadors for A1 Team Netherlands and A1 Team USA respectively.

Nitro SuperGP General Manager Greg Hooton said the idea behind the ambassador program was to celebrate the many different nationalities which will be coming to the Gold Coast in October and racing in front of the fans.

Malaysian Club of Queensland president Teng Hee Tan (A1 Team Malaysia) was also in attendance, taking a particular interest in the A1 Team Malaysia race car on display.

The 2009 Nitro SuperGP will host Event 11 of the V8 Supercars Championship Series and the first round of the 2009/10 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport season. The event is produced through a partnership between the Queensland Government and IMG – tickets for this year’s event are on sale now through Ticketek on 1300 303 103.

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