Motorsport: Radisich back in the hot seat

By Eric Thompson

At the beginning of the month, former double world touring car champion Paul Radisich was handed the CEO reins of the newly launched V8 SuperTourer racing series. He replaces Mark Petch as the company's front-line executive.

Radisich has been based primarily in the United Kingdom for the past three years, running a business providing unique pit-wall solutions for race tracks around Europe.

The 48-year-old has many race and championship wins to his credit, including nine years' fulltime competition in the Australian V8 Supercar championship, the 1993 and 1994 world touring car titles and hundreds of other touring car races around the world.

His extensive international touring car experience includes racing and winning in the Australian V8 Supercar series with teams such as Dick Johnson Racing, Triple Eight Racing, TKR and Toll HSV Racing.

The inaugural V8 SuperTourer series is expected to commence at Hampton Downs in February and Driven caught up with Radisich to get his thoughts on the new series.

Driven: How did you get to be involved in the new series?

Radisich: I initially came back to New Zealand for some family business. While I was doing that I was contacted by Mark [Petch] who said I should come and have a look at the car. When I saw it I thought "what a brilliant concept". I thought it was V8 Supercars on New Zealand terms. I could see it really working, so I went back to the UK and tidied things up there and Mark put a deal together. If I was going to come back, I wanted to be involved in motorsport and it seemed a good fit.

D: What is it about the car and series you like?

R: Everything about the car I like, from the build of it all the way to the cost. You can buy a car for $180,000 ready on the track to go. The car is bullet-proof and the only major cost will be incurred if drivers run into each other. It's over-engineered for a job and it's what we need. When you're talking seasons of running, you're only looking at maintenance costs. It's got a 7-litre engine and will be faster than a V8 Supercar.

Everything's the same and the only differences will be the body shells and, of course, as time goes, hopefully other manufacturers will jump aboard.

D: There seems to be a bit of interest from across the ditch?

R: Yes, that's right, Greg Murphy has already made the decision to come back and race in the series and, just recently, Cam McConville has committed to the series. I can remember when I first started racing you had to disappear overseas because there was hardly any racing. Now there's an opportunity to race summer and winter - all year round if they so choose. Also there's the added attraction of being able to race the fastest cars in Australasia.

D: Since your contract ended recently in the UK, this opportunity must have come at the right time.

R: It keeps me involved in motorsport without having to do the hard job turning up every time and driving every day. Not that the other side of the fence is any easier, but it's something I've always been interested in and the timing has worked out perfectly.

D: You're still a relatively young bloke, but did you decide that rather than sit inside a tin-top and rubbing door handles you'd rather take more of an overview?

R: Look, if I hadn't decided to throw myself into a fence and become the Australian Supercars crash dummy then I'd still be going around and around. It's one of the things that's very hard to let go [racing] and I had let go as far as fulltime racing was concerned. In my mind I sort of had let go but was still hanging on a bit. I've never really been that keen on running a team and I wanted to get into the administration side of things and I guess this is my chance to be involved in running a series.

D: Speaking of your big crashes, how are your injuries?

R: It's taken three years to recover. I'm good now and I don't need to lie down during the day. There are certain things I have to manage but, overall, I'm as good as can be.

D: Now that you're fighting fit, do you think you'll be doing any one-off races?

R: In the UK, I got involved in the historic side of racing and I really enjoyed that and it was only for fun. I was at Goodwood and that was great. No-pressure stuff and a very short time in the seat. I can't spend a long time and hustle in the seat any more as I would like. To answer your question: yes, I'm okay for a couple of laps.

2012 Sprint Championship

Round 1 February 17-19
Hampton Downs Motorsport Park
North Waikato

Round 2 April 7-8
Powerbuilt Tools Raceway
Christchurch

Round 3 April 27-29
Manfeild Autocourse
Feilding

Round 4 June 1-3
Hampton Downs Motorsport Park
North Waikato

2012 Endurance Championship

Round 5 August 10-12
Taupo Motorsport Park
Taupo

Round 6 September 21-23
Hampton Downs Motorsport Park
North Waikato

Round 7 October 26-28
Powerbuilt Tools Raceway
Christchurch

- NZ Herald

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