06 July 2009
Sydney's Eastern Creek Raceway is making a strong bid to host a round of the inaugural World GT1 Championship for sports cars in 2010.
The raceway now has four months in which to stake Australia's claim to the ground breaking championship.
The series is being hailed as the first world title that has been purpose-designed for the Internet.
Series promoter, the UK-based SRO Motorsports Group, intends to field a 24 car grid with live "conventional" TV already confirmed across Europe, the Middle East, Asia and South America.
Six of the twelve rounds are locked in and the other six, including Australia, are now on offer and under negotiation.
GT1 vehicles from Nissan, Ford and Lamborghini have been confirmed.
Aston Martin, Audi, Ferrari and Chevrolet have the series under evaluation.
SRO has presented sporting regulations for the fledgling series to the FIA Motor Sport World Council last week.
Confirmation of series venues is required by October and entries must be lodged by the end of November.
Eastern Creek promoter, the Australian Racing Drivers' Club, claims the GT1 World Championship is, "the most cost effective world championship that could possibly come to Australia".
ARDC CEO Geoff Arnold said his group was ramping up its bid to seek support from authorities at local, state, and federal levels.
"Return on investment will be high," Arnold said.
"Conventional TV reach is estimated at more than 150 million viewers, but the true value lies in the net where SRO is developing substantial breakthrough opportunities."
The ARDC has a proposition in front of the NSW Government for a staged upgrade of the 20 year-old state-owned circuit.
However the World Championship proposal does not depend on the improvements being made.
"Eastern Creek's facilities and track design benefit from a Grade 2 FIA Homologation, which is the level required to host a round of the FIA GT1 World Championship," SRO President and CEO Stephane Ratel said.
"One of the attractions of the venue is that it is within the boundaries of one of the world's most desirable cities, and it is walk-in-walk-out."
Mr Arnold said adoption of Phase One of the ARDC's improvement plans would be desirable, but it was not mandatory.
"Our immediate concern is to have relevant tourism authorities buy into the opportunity and partner with us."
SRO is one of the world's most successful motorsport promoters. Its portfolio includes a ten-year involvement with the FIA's European GT Championships and management around the world of another nine national and European titles.
"SRO's credentials are impeccable and their offer is compelling," Mr Arnold said.
"Tourism and sporting authorities should take this opportunity very seriously and work with us to explore the potential."
Eastern Creek celebrates its 20th anniversary as a race track this year.
It was purpose built to host the world Moto GP Championships, which it did for seven years, before the title was taken back by Victoria's Phillip Island circuit.
"Eastern Creek is now Sydney's only permanent race track and it is one of only a handful of government-owned permanent motor racing facilities," Mr Arnold said.
"It is the logical venue to bid for this series."
Posted by Roderick Eime