Motorsport: Supercars foray into Asia on hold

Warren Luff leads the pack during Supercars Sandown 500. Photo / Getty Images
Warren Luff leads the pack during Supercars Sandown 500. Photo / Getty Images

Supercars' foray into Asia is likely to be put on hold for another year with ongoing legal proceedings set to keep the Malaysian round on ice again for 2017.

The series signed a four-year contract to race on the streets of Kuala Lumpur from this year, but the August event had to be cancelled due to a legal dispute between the original and new race promoters.

Supercars were hopeful the dispute could be settled in time to push ahead with plans for the event next year, but with the court case still to play out, the Malaysian round is set to be left off the championship calendar.

The category has been open in its wish to add another Asian race to the championship, with talk about Supercars venturing to Indonesia or Thailand.

But Supercars chief executive James Warburton said the series was now unlikely to rush into any other deal to race in Asia for next year.

"Malaysia won't be on the calendar down to the court proceedings," Warburton said.

"Directions is November and court case is March of next year. Until the case is solved, no one can be awarded the rights to promote a race in KL.

"The appetite is still there from everyone, but until the shareholding issue is sorted, it won't go anywhere.

"We'll be pretty conservative before we put something on the calendar. I'd say it's probably unlikely (there'll be an Asian race) at this point."

The Kuala Lumpur event was to be Supercars' first new international race in three years and forms part of the category's vision to establish itself in the Asian market.

Aside from Supercars' regular round in Auckland, the last time the category ventured overseas for a championship event was to Texas in 2013, while their last push into Asia was to Shanghai in 2005.

Asia is viewed as the ideal region for Supercars to spread its wings internationally, with favourable time zones and non-prohibitive freight costs.

"We have got to be focused on getting it right in the right markets, in the right time zones for the long term," Warburton said.

"We've got to make sure that it's a long term sustainable race. We could probably rush one through for next year if we really pushed, but we're probably better to get it right."

Supercars is also is the process of finalising its plans for the championship finale, with Newcastle believed to be the frontrunner to replace Homebush for the last round.

The calendar for 2017 is likely to be announced before Bathurst.


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