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V8 international idea proving a hit

Published: 8:16PM Wednesday October 20, 2010 Source: Reuters

  • V8 Supercars (Source: Photosport)
    V8 Supercars - Source: Photosport

TeamVodafone owner Roland Dane believes the line-up for this weekend's Gold Coast 600 V8 Supercar event is the best touring cars has seen for 40 years.

The regular collection of fulltime Australian-based drivers will join up with 18 international stars on the streets of Surfers Paradise, with IndyCar, Formula One and European touring car champions among the field.

And it's a concept that has Dane licking his lips in anticipation as he looks at the names up and down pitlane.

"It's the best touring car field that's ever been assembled probably anywhere since the '60s and the likes of Jim Clark driving Lotus Cortinas and things," Dane said today.

"It's an unbelievably good line-up and of course there's a lot of people in the industry around the world, particularly in the US and Europe, watching and seeing what we're up to.

"I was a big advocate of it - the only question mark is whether there should be not 18 but 29 international drivers? Whether that's something that we can deal with if we choose to go forward with the concept.

"I'm looking forward to it and seeing how it shapes out, where some of these guys end up in the pecking order."

Among the stars who'll share driving duties on the Gold Coast with V8 Supercar regulars this weekend are Australian IndyCar drivers Ryan Briscoe and Will Power, two-time Indy500 champion Dario Franchitti, three-time world touring car champion Andy Priaulx and former Formula One world champion Jacques Villeneuve.

With many having only got their first taste of driving a V8 Supercar earlier this week, there have been predictions Saturday and Sunday's races will have a massive attrition rate, which could also go a long way to deciding this year's championship.

But Dane says those suggestions are disrespectful to the quality of the international drivers, who he feels will quickly adapt to their Fords and Holdens.

"You've got to remember, there isn't a dill amongst these guys," he said.

"These guys are all professional racecar drivers who are earning a living out of driving racecars in different parts of the world.

"It'll take some longer than others to get to grips with our cars, of course there's an element to that, but they've driven plenty of cars in plenty of races so I think to automatically assume there's going to be massive carnage is short of the mark."

Carnage or not, the concept has certainly caught the imagination of the overseas motorsport fraternity, with media interest from the US, United Kingdom and Europe already topping previous events on the Gold Coast.

And it's an idea that is exciting the drivers too.

"This for us allows a lot of us who've always wanted to drive these cars, it allows us the opportunity to do that," Franchitti told AAP.

"At the same time it gives the Gold Coast the international element they need - these cars just look like a lot of fun to drive, and they are."