In today’s second part of our exclusive interview with AVESCO chairman Tony Cochrane, even as the media continues to speculate that the days of the Australian Grand Prix could be numbered via a threatened future f1 breakaway of major teams backed by the world’s leading car makers, the V8 Supercars boss thinks Melbourne is safe from harm.

Cochrane thinks all the myriad litigation and disputes currently embroiling f1 boss Bernie Ecclestone as a majority of teams and his own financial partners seek to either throw him out of the sport he controls, or at least clip his wings and his share of the f1 spoils, will still see Ecclestone survive the latest power plays.

“I think he should hold his ground and just deal with the teams,” the V8 boss reasons. “I don’t think he has to deal with the manufacturers because they don’t own the sport. It’s more a matter for him and the teams to find a new way forward via the next Concord Agreement (this team contract expires at end of 2007 – RS). I will have any amount of money anyone wants to bet me, that he does.”

Cochrane who must rule his own sport with steely resolution to keep the peace in a championship filled with notoriously ultra competitive personalities, also believes there are deeper agendas at work than f1 teams simply wanting a bigger slice of the financial pie. In that respect he blames the various major car makers behind the teams as the most deeply committed to getting rid of Ecclestone.

“I think there’s an awful lot of truth being hidden as to the real reasons why they’re trying to get hold of control of the sport. There’s clearly a jealousy factor in the job Bernie has done and the money he has earned out of it. But I also think that probably in the end common sense will prevail and they will have to split the pie up differently before they reach a new Concorde agreement. There’s still a lot of water yet to flow under the bridge and I’m not particularly close to it, but you can bet there’s going to be a lot more argument before this gets resolved,” he told Crikey.

Cochrane explains in our online conclusion why he thinks Ecclestone is a genius and is being treated shabbily by his business partners, while also revealing some of the politics behind his own sport as he continues his quest to keep growing the V8 Supercars championship here and abroad. A world where the words Holden and Ford are never be far away in any future considerations.

He also confirms that not only is AVESCO looking to strike a new domestic TV rights deal where the sport is currently tied to the Ten network until the end of 2006, but expects to complete the new deal ahead of the AFL that has threatened a log jam for other major rights holders.

CRIKEY: Read the second installment of Stapleton’s F1 feature on the site here: http://www.crikey.com.au/articles/2005/03/003-0001-4808.html

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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