Rival circuit plans to steal GP
Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit managing director Fergus Cameron responded this week to claims that Bathurst will attempt to steal the annual MotoGP and World Superbikes events from Phillip Island. He said the Phillip Island venue has been described as the “motorcycle mecca of the world”.
By Mitch Guy
PHILLIP Island is facing a bold challenge to host the annual MotoGP and World Superbikes events, with Bathurst planning to steal the events from the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit.
A second circuit is set to be built at the famous Mt Panorama in Bathurst, and Bathurst Mayor Gary Rush publicly stated the town’s intentions to secure the events last week.
As the circuit prepares to host the 25th World Superbike event this weekend, Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit managing director Fergus Cameron quickly quashed claims of a takeover.
“Everyone is clearly very envious of the product that we have at Phillip Island, and I wish them (Bathurst) all the very best in all of their endeavours,” Mr Cameron said.
“At the end of the day, teams, riders, international media, everybody loves coming to Phillip Island and this is highly regarded as a motorcycle venue; it’s talked about in terms as being the motorcycle mecca of the world.
“We think we’ve got a long, long future ahead of us in terms of international motorcycle sport. We have a long-standing contract and I’m sure it will continue on in the future.”
MotoGP world champions such as Australia’s Casey Stoner and Italy’s Valentino Rossi have sung the praises of the circuit in the past, which is renowned for its fast-paced racing and smooth corners.
The economic benefits that the two major international events add to the Bass Coast region are immense, with a yearly influx of visitors to Phillip Island at this time.
The Victorian Government has supported the events as part of the Victorian Major Events Strategy, and Mr Cameron spoke candidly about the impact that events at the Grand Prix Circuit have on the Bass Coast region.
He said the last time there was an economic impact study of the Superbike World Championship, it was found to contribute $17 million to the state’s economy.
“The Bass Coast Shire assessed in 2011 that the events run at the Phillip Island Circuit introduced $1.07 million into the local economy,” he said.
“All events and activities that we have here – MotoGP, Superbikes, V8 Supercars, Historic Cars, Historic Bikes and all those other events – a lot of the events are overlooked but they are really important contributors.”
Some Phillip Island residents may welcome the news of a change of location.
The traffic issues during events can be frustrating, but it is a case of short-term pain, long-term gain for the wider community.
“When we do have big events, there is a lot of investment that goes into the infrastructure in terms of moving the traffic; if you have a busy weekend in January or Easter or a long weekend throughout the year, the situation is a lot worse because you don’t have that controlled environment,” Mr Cameron said.
Crowd numbers swelled at the 2012 MotoGP with over 53,000 spectators on the Sunday to farewell Stoner, but since then, crowd numbers have dropped.
But the event still continues to attract a healthy number of visitors to Phillip Island.
“I think it’s been a general tendency across a lot of sports, and in our particular case with motorsport events, I think it’s very clear that we’re a pretty parochial mob,” Cameron said.
“We like to see Australians doing well and we’ve got a lot of young talent that’s progressing and we’re very optimistic about how they will go in the future, but right at the present time we don’t have a lot of front runners.
“With MotoGP and Superbikes there’s also an element that people just love to come here for events; it doesn’t really matter. They just come for the atmosphere and the tradition.”