V8 Supercars gone from Hamilton

DANIEL ADAMS
Last updated 12:11 30/09/2011

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LATEST: Next year's V8 races will be the last in Hamilton after the city's councillors today agreed to let race organisers back out of the event.

And New Zealand might not retain a round of the V8 Supercars series with V8 Supercars Australia chairman Tony Cochrane refusing today to  guarantee racing would continue in New Zealand after next year.

''The 2012 event will be our last in the Waikato and while we assure fans we will do everything possible to find a new venue, unfortunately we cannot guarantee racing in New Zealand after 2012."

The Hamilton City Council today announced it had accepted a $1.25 million offer from V8 Supercars Australia for the city's race assets and would leave after the 2012 race.

City councillors were stunned by a compensation offer to let V8 Supercars renege on the balance of its seven-year contract after it took a heavy financial hit staging this year's race.

The deal was negotiated by council chief executive Barry Harris. He has been in discussions with V8 Supercars Australia for several months however councillors were unaware of it until it was put in front of them at yesterday's meeting.

The 2011 race, the first organised by V8 Supercars Australia after the previous promoters went broke, is understood to have made a huge loss, prompting the offer including for race assets which cost the city $9m.

Acting V8 Supercars Australia chief executive Shane Howard arrived on Wednesday night and behind closed doors yesterday laid out the deal to stunned councillors.

In a joint statement from V8 Supercars Australia and the council released today orgainsers blamed losses on the Canterbury earthquake, Rugby World Cup and economic downturn eating into attendance and corporate sponsorship.

Moving the races to November to fit better with the rest of the race schedule was impractical for businesses around the Frankton track and would require a lengthy consent process.

The statement also cited ''ongoing challenges'' including ''Hamilton's distance from a major corporate centre, modest hotel infrastructure and the downturn of ticket sales in the Waikato region''.

Hamilton Mayor Julie Hardaker described the deal as the best outcome for both the city and V8 Supercars.

''While I am sorry to see such a high profile event go, there has been a cost to the ratepayers which is not sustainable. We've reached an agreement with the promoters that is the best for the city.''

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- Waikato Times

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