The Australian Vee Eight Supercar Company (AVESCO) will become Australia's largest sports exporter following the signing of an historic sanction agreement in Shanghai today that will take the country's third most watched sport to China. AVESCO...
The Australian Vee Eight Supercar Company (AVESCO) will become Australia's largest sports exporter following the signing of an historic sanction agreement in Shanghai today that will take the country's third most watched sport to China.
AVESCO Chairman Tony Cochrane signed the agreement with the Shanghai Greenland Group, Shanghai's largest property developer, meaning the Australian V8 Supercar Championship Series will race at the Shanghai International Circuit each year for the next five years.
"This day is one of the most significant in the history of our Championship," Mr Cochrane said at the signing of the agreement at the SIC today.
"The people of Shanghai will be blown away with what they see next June, just as our teams and drivers will be blown away when they see what is arguably the best motorsport facility in the world.
"The SIC must be seen to be believed. It will host September's Formula One race as a warm-up to us coming here next June! This event will become the pinnacle of our Series and the backbone of our international future.
"Our sport has significant recognition and reach in Asia where 60 million people watch each round. China, through CCTV, increases our international television audience to 70 countries and brings V8 Supercars into more than 500 million homes.
"This historic agreement also signals the start of a new era for AVESCO which will dip its toes in the international sporting arena following on from our huge successes in New Zealand.
"Today will open up a whole new world for our Championship."
Mr Cochrane was flanked by Queensland Premier Peter Beattie in a show of support for the series. They both recognised China as one of Australia's most important trading partners.
"I congratulate AVESCO for this imaginative and bold move which will add to our overseas reputation," Mr Beattie said.
"Make no mistake, this means export dollars and potential jobs for Australians. Today's signing ceremony is the culmination of a lot of hard work over the past two years by AVESCO, Greenland and the SIC in conjunction with the Queensland Government and Austrade.
"My Government has also committed to continuing its support for the V8 Supercar racing event and has included it in the seventh Sister-State Memorandum of Understanding with the Shanghai Government which I have just signed."
Five-time champion Mark Skaife said the move into China had massive potential.
"As drivers and athletes we always want to perform in front of the biggest crowds at the best venues," Skaife said.
"For our teams to race at the Shanghai International Circuit in front of hundreds of thousands shapes as one of the highlights of our careers.
"Our first race of the year in Adelaide, the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne and the Lexmark Indy on the Gold Coast are signature events within our championship.
"This race has the potential to form a pretty special part of that group of signature events when you consider the world class standard of facilities.
"I can't wait for the guys to get here and take a look at this place. I'm sure the Chinese will also get right into the competitiveness of the series and the aggressive way we race.
"With the Formula One event being held here in September it also means that the circuit will have been given a thorough test before we arrive eight months later. That will help our jobs of making our debut in China a success.
"In more global terms the event will take our series to the biggest population on the planet and I believe open up incredible opportunities for everyone involved.
"I can't wait to get back to Shanghai next year and see 32 cars in a fierce battle to become the first V8 Supercar winner in China.
"And those at home in Australia will be able to watch this unfold live on television with extended Sunday afternoon coverage. This will not only include race action but a showcase of the region and insights into China."
Former Minardi Formula One driver Alex Yoong, the first person to drive an F1 car in China, has joined the Wright Patton Shakespeare team and looks forward to racing in his heartland of Asia next year.
"The series is the most challenging touring car competition in the world and to be trusted by the Wright Patton Shakespeare (WPS) team to run in the championship is great," Yoong said.
"The V8's are awesome to look at and listen to. I think that once the orient gets a close up look at the racing in the series and the quality of the competition the whole region will become instant fans."
AVESCO views China as the perfect new international partner given that it is now Australia's third largest trading partner and by 2008 will provide Australia with more tourists than any other country.
The Shanghai International Circuit is a state of the art facility with spectacular architecture. It was designed by Formula One's premier track designer Hermann Tilke.