Mike Stevens | Sep 15, 2009

V8 SUPERCARS CHAIRMAN Tony Cochrane has hit out at critics of his decision to award the opening races of next season to Abu Dhabi and Bahrain.

Cochrane has been subjected to a barrage of criticism by V8 supporters who have slammed the arrival of an additional overseas round.

But Cochrane said the alternative to not expanding the series would be to face potential financial catastrophe.

“The fans would be more upset if we went bankrupt and we didn’t have any racing. The fact of the matter is it really suits the Gulf for us to be there at that time of the year,” he said.

The V8 supremo also dismissed the notion fans would be disadvantaged by another flyaway round, saying the events would still be broadcast live on television.

“If you actually look at our research, more than 90 per cent of our fans attend one or two events a year, the other events they watch via TV,” he said.

“So does it really matter if we are racing at Phillip Island on a particular weekend or Abu Dhabi on a particular weekend for the vast majority of the fans?

“You can sit there in the comfort of your own lounge room and watch them. It’s more racing than ever next year; I can’t imagine how any fan could be vaguely upset. They still go to Clipsal in March; it’s still the first round in Australia.”

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While the decision to shift the Bahrain round to the opening weeks of next season prompted the cancellation of this year’s event, Cochrane revealed V8 Supercars Australia was still compensated by organisers and would receive its fee.

Cochrane said the Bahrain organisers are pleased by the economic boost V8 Supercars provides to the region, adding it has decided to extend its current deal with the Sakhir circuit.

“We have just signed a new potential five-year deal with them (three years with a two year option),” he said. “For us the Gulf is a very important part of our future; as is growing the championship.”

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