Fee row threatens Australian Grand Prix

November 12, 2010

The future of the Australian Formula One Grand Prix is under threat due to a fee dispute.

Grand Prix chairman Ron Walker has accused race organisers CAMS (the Confederation of Australian Motorsport) of holding the event to ransom.

The 2011 event could be deleted from the F1 calendar unless a solution is found by November 19.

Walker claims CAMS is demanding $800,000 to run the four-day event and says it is acting as a monopoly.

The dispute is due to go before the ruling world body, the FIA, and the World Motorsport Council.

But Walker has threatened to sack CAMS and hire organisers from another grand prix to run the Australian race.

“We call tenders to all the services to the Grand Prix and CAMS were unwilling to comply with our request,” said Walker, who is in Abu Dhabi for talks with F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone.

“Then the (Victorian) Government decided that as CAMS was a monopoly, they wanted competitive tendering in all pricing, which is what the ACCC demands.

“But CAMS have resisted and have said to the World Motorsport Council that if the Australian Grand Prix do not comply then we will apply to have them removed from the calendar.

“We will not sign a new contract with CAMS unless they modernise their management and reduce their prices,” Walker said.

“They are charging us too much. All the officials are voluntary and we provide all the uniforms and food.”

Walker said the AGP Corporation was unhappy with the layers of managers and officials CAMS felt they needed to organise motorsport in Australia.

He said that Ecclestone has told him CAMS can remain the overriding national sporting authority but it was possible to appoint another organiser, such as the organiser of the British Grand Prix.

“It is the downright threat that has got the ire of the government and everybody else,” Walker said.

“We have been arguing with CAMS ever since we started.

“Now they have said you re-hire us on our terms or we will apply to the FIA to have you removed from the calendar.”

Walker said the AGP was “sensibly communicating” with CAMS in order to try to settle it,” he said.

“But they are threatening the Government and you can’t get away with that too often – but that’s how imperious CAMS is.”