AFTER months of rumour and innuendo, V8 Supercars has confirmed this year’s KL City 400 Supercar Extravaganza will be a fizzer.
The blame for cancelling what has carried a very showy name in light of what is not happening on the streets of the Malaysian capital has been aimed squarely at an unresolved legal dispute as promoters for the event fight over the rights to its potential multimillion-dollar spoils.
V8 Supercars CEO James Warburton said in a statement: “We have been formally advised by the Malaysian promoter that due to ongoing legal action in Malaysia, to which we’re not a party, there is insufficient time to prepare the street circuit in Kuala Lumpur for the event on August 12-14.
“The event has therefore been cancelled.”
Boning this year’s KL championship race reduces the title series to 14 events, with no chance of a make-good round emerging. There is now a sizeable gap between the rounds at Queensland Raceway and Sydney Motorsport Park.
A cloud has been hanging over the KL race for some time but Supercars and the promoter were hoping the issues would be resolved in time. The original promoter, GT Global, and new promoter City Motorsports have been embroiled in a legal stoush, with the KL City Hall firmly declaring it would not support the event as long as the race was clouded by an ongoing court action.
Apologising to race fans, some of whom have booked holidays to Malaysia based around the V8 Supercars race, Warburton conceded it was inconvenient for these people but emphasised it was “a matter outside of our control”.
“We explored a number of other options with the Malaysian promoter to ensure this year's race went ahead including moving the event to the Sepang International Circuit,” said Warburton. But all attempts were stymied.
V8 Supercars is certainly not enjoying much luck with its renewed efforts to establish a select few additional races outside Australasia.
The series’ first Asian foray came in 2005 to Shanghai. But after losing money, the Chinese promoter chose not to repeat the exercise. Since then, V8 Supercars has visited Bahrain (2006-8, 2010) and Abu Dhabi (2010-12). Again, the crowds were modest, even if the then chairman of V8 Supercars was less so…
Three years ago, the series hooked up with the new Circuit of the Americas track near Austin, Texas, but the promoter opted out of any further visits.
At different times over the years, the category has sought rounds in several Asian countries including the Philippines, India, Thailand and Indonesia. Political and economic stability, and in some cases a poor automotive culture, makes the task always difficult.
Warburton remains his optimistic self on the matter of Asian races. "We are absolutely committed to continuing to expand the series into Asia and are currently considering a number of other options to race in the region beyond 2016,” he said.
Warburton hasn’t given up on Malaysia either. "We have a four-year agreement to race in Malaysia until the end of 2019 and we look forward to returning to Kuala Lumpur when all the local legal issues have been resolved.
“We believe this event on the streets of KL will be one not to be missed.” But not this year…