Motorsport: Cochrane calls time

By Eric Thompson

Following Saturday's first instalment, Tony Cochrane continues sharing his views on the V8 Supercars

Tony Cochrane revitalised V8 Supercars by introducing entertainment such as Good Charlotte. Photo / EDGE Photographics
Tony Cochrane revitalised V8 Supercars by introducing entertainment such as Good Charlotte. Photo / EDGE Photographics

The former chairman of the V8 Supercars, Tony Cochrane, is heading off to find new challenges for his legendary drive, hands-on approach and the "I know what I'm doing" school of management.

Just hours before the end-of-season V8 Supercars Gala Dinner in Sydney, where he was to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, we sat down to get his take on his time in V8s and what might be ahead for the sport.

Now that you've stepped away from V8 racing are you still going to watch the odd meeting?

I really do feel that if you say you're going to step away you do step away. I'm not one of these people to hang around the edges and tell management how to manage, or tell the board how to operate. I still have an advisory role and the board or management can come and find me if they want to run stuff by me.

What have you thought of this last season with the old cars? A lot of teams put a lot of effort into cars they knew were at the end of the road.

There's a lot of sponsorship dollars and gone are the days when teams would think they'd have a new car the next year and do bugger all to the car this year and just cruise. Well, your sponsor isn't going to cop that these days. He's putting millions of dollars into your team and wants to see some results. So they've all been out there peddling pretty hard all this year.

How do you think the drivers will fare next year with the new car?

There is going to be a changing of the guard. There are some drivers at the end of their careers and they are going to have to accept that and move on. To be competitive in the V8 now it's a young man's game and it's very tough.

Greg Murphy has been an absolute great ambassador for your country and great driver. Even Greg will now realise the V8 game at this elite level has moved on for him. He would still be competitive in a small series like V8 SuperTourers but there's a chasm between the two in professionalism, fitness levels and effort.

What are your thoughts on Shane van Gisbergen leaving?

At just 23 that's a shame. It's a huge shame for him personally. I don't know the background so I'm not going to speculate on it but it's unfortunate it wasn't recognised earlier and more of an attempt was made to find a solution. I think one of the real exciting things from a Kiwi point of view is clearly Scott McLaughlin. I really think if properly handled and managed, not rushed and everyone being a bit patient, he'll be a real New Zealand superstar.

Got to bring up that old chestnut - what are your thoughts about going back to Pukekohe?

It's quite funny really how people who don't know the history snipe away at you. We never wanted to leave but we were told the racetrack was going to be shut down and redeveloped for horse racing and stuff. We moved to Hamilton and V8 Supercars did the right thing by not walking away from it and backing it at a loss for two years.

We wanted to show the fan base in New Zealand that they mattered to us. Now we have a fantastic partnership with the New Zealand Government, the Auckland Council and Counties Racing Board. It'll give the place a 15-20-year life and it's so close to the biggest city in the country.

Any idea what you might do now or are you just going to take some chill time?

I've only just really finished with V8s about now so I'm going to have the rest of December and all of January off. And then I'm going to recalibrate in February and March and think about what I might want to do. I've got a number of really interesting offers to consider and I have my own ideas as well. I'm certainly not retiring.

- NZ Herald

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