Chief executive James Warburton insists the Supercars championship is committed to expanding into Asia despite being forced to cancel this year’s Malaysia event.
Supercars announced on Wednesday the inaugural street circuit race in Kuala Lumpur in August is cancelled as a legal dispute between rival promoters continues in the south-east Asian nation.
It’s the latest setback in Supercars’ international ambitions, with only New Zealand becoming a regular overseas destination for the championship despite several attempts to crack foreign markets in the past decade.
The event came into doubt several weeks ago when it was revealed new race promoters City Motorsports were in a legal wrangle with their predecessors.
Warburton flew to Malaysia last month to seek clarity over the race’s future but has been forced to dump the event from this year’s calendar.
“We apologise to our fans for any inconvenience, but unfortunately this is a matter outside of our control,” Warburton said.
“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 but this was simply not possible.”
Warburton says the championship has a four-year agreement to race in Malaysia and is confident of holding an event there in 2017.
He also insists plans to hold further races in other Asian nations such as Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore are still very much in the championship’s future plans.
“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.
NO PLACE LIKE HOME – Supercars’ overseas setbacks
China – Hosted one event in Shanghai in 2005 but scheduling conflicts resulted in China being dumped from calendar the following year.
Bahrain – A Supercars’ destination from 2006-08 before a solitary return in 2010 on the back of inaugural Abu Dhabi race.
Abu Dhabi – Hosted stand alone races at Yas Marina Circuit in 2010 and 11 before Supercars became a support race for the Abu Dhabi Formula One grand prix in 2012. Dumped in 2013.
Texas – The Austin 400 was only held once in 2013 at the Circuit of the Americas before being postponed in 2014 and the contract between the track and the championship cancelled in 2015.