Motorsport: Tensions cool between V8 rivals

By Eric Thompson

Mark Petch.
Photo / Geoff Ridder
Mark Petch. Photo / Geoff Ridder

It would appear the bad blood bubbling below the surface between V8 SuperTourers, V8 Supercars and various other factions is beginning to simmer down.

That is despite the fact that an Australian motorsports website reported the ousting of V8 SuperTourers managing director Mark Petch.

The speedcafe.com.au website said: "It was confirmed this morning that operations manager Didier Debae has been appointed as acting Chief Executive Officer of the V8 SuperTourers.

"The Belgian will become the official spokesperson for V8 SuperTourers, taking responsibility for public affairs and for all media comment.

"The changes come after managing director Mark Petch was relieved of his position in light of recent comments made to local media on the issues of V8 Supercars' new Pukekohe deal and the Australian class's attempts to stop its drivers competing in the upcoming V8 SuperTourer endurance races." (See here)

But Petch told Driven exclusively that he is still the managing director of V8 SuperTourers.

"I read that quote on the website," said Petch. "Look there's a lot of politics swirling around New Zealand motorsport right now and ... I'm keeping a low profile. It is agreed I'm not the front person that I have been.

"We now have a good guy in Didier but I am a substantial shareholder and managing director and I'm not going to stand on egos. I have willingly relinquished some duties that Didier has picked up."

Debae was recently appointed operations manager but in his role as CEO he replaces the former two-time World Touring Car champion Paul Radisich, who stepped down because of family business work commitments.

Part of the steps Petch has taken to ensure V8 SuperTourers avoided any major scrap was a discussion with V8 Supercars this week in Australia.

"The spat we had with [V8 Supercars' chairman] Tony Cochrane was because I let emotions get in the way, and I was obviously extremely disappointed at the reaction that happened. I can tell you there is a public apology from me in the next copy of the Auto Action [motorsport publication in Australia]," said Petch.

He said there are changes planned within V8 SuperTourers.

"There are some fundamental changes happening that involve the teams eventually owning the lion's share of V8 SuperTourers and I'm 100 hundred per cent supportive of that.

"They will end up owning 70 per cent of the company and I think that is a good thing. You know that they are the entertainment act and without them there is no show and you don't want your teams feeling resentful," said Petch.

As he rightly said, the teams need to be part of the whole story and need to deal with a non-shareholder management structure so that they don't feel they're being sidelined. If issues do come to light, it will be far easier to deal with a CEO and his team who are not part of the corporate shareholder structure.

"There is no question that I think by the end of the year we will be looking at a different organisation and I will have a different role than the one I have in the company now.

" It started from nothing and things are changing and the utes are now coming with us," he said.

"We think next year will be a boom year.

"We'll have 20 cars on the grid for Taupo [September 1-2] and we have another four in construction so people can get the chassis in time to build cars for February next year," said Petch.

- NZ Herald

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