SuperTourers leave town

OFF THE CALENDAR: Greg Murphy leads the V8 SuperTourers at Manfeild Park in April.
OFF THE CALENDAR: Greg Murphy leads the V8 SuperTourers at Manfeild Park in April.

The V8 SuperTourers have confirmed that the late release of Supercars dates by the Australians scuttled Manfeild's booking for next year.

The SuperTourers raced at Manfeild for the first time in April this year and were to be back on March 16-17, but that is now off.

SuperTourers chairman Chris Abbott, a Havelock North lawyer, explained that five of the V8 Supercars meetings will clash with the SuperTourers'.

Many of the drivers and race engineers are involved in both and the Supercars organisation forbids them from racing in New Zealand when their series is running.

But because the Manfeild dates clashed with the Supercars' racing at the Melbourne Grand Prix, that meeting has gone to Ruapuna in Christchurch in April.

"The Australian calendar came out only two weeks ago," Abbott said. "That was late; typically it was out before Bathurst.

"And it threw us into disarray."

The SuperTourers are insistent they have live television coverage of all their meetings and TV3 will always screen the Australian racing ahead of New Zealand's.

"So we were forced into a total re-write of our calendar."

Then the SuperTourers people were also forced into weighing up 20 considerations between the circuits. Manfeild had its pros and cons and Abbott said Ruapuna wasn't perfect either.

"It is really regrettable but it has been forced on us by circumstances."

But all is not lost. Abbott said a number of venues and dates after February and March have not been confirmed.

"If some don't happen, we will be knocking on the door at Manfeild."

It appears communication must improve after Manfeild only discovered it was off the schedule via the SuperTourers' Facebook page at 7pm on Friday night. Abbott confirmed someone was asked to inform Manfeild, and did not.

"We are in discussions with Manfeild to see what we can do."

As Manfeild chief executive Heather Verry said: "I have had no formal confirmation they have cancelled. They did not communicate with us before deciding not to come."

She said Manfeild had bent over backwards to accommodate the SuperTourers, including juggling dates with other users. "We will negotiate with anyone; we want to have good events at Manfeild and Manfeild are very keen to have them back."

Abbott said Manfeild had plenty of positives - such as its proximity to Palmerston North and Wellington, a very good track and it was the home of a lot of New Zealand motor racing.

SuperTourers managing director and major shareholder Mark Petch told the Manawatu Standard he had issues with access to hospitality suites, sufficient pit garages at the Feilding circuit (eventually up to 24) and hinted that other tracks were offering deals to host the SuperTourers.

All of that was a surprise to Verry who said those issues had never been discussed. "Everyone has specific requirements and and we work very hard to work with them," she said.

Abbott confirmed the only major issue at stake this time was the date clash with Australia.

Manawatu Standard