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Supercars wants to race outside Australia again

Supercars will look to restore overseas races as part of an "international strategy" under the leadership of new CEO Shane Howard.

Red Bull Holdens lead the field at the start

Red Bull Holdens lead the field at the start

Edge Photographics

Howard made his intention to take Supercars beyond Aussie shores clear during a briefing with media, shortly after he was announced as the category's latest CEO.

Having led the operational line on past trips to China, the Middle East and the US over the past two decades, he says it's time to revisit international opportunities after several years of focus solely on Australia and New Zealand.

According to Howard, the adoption of an "international strategy" will go hand-in-glove with the introduction of the more market-relevant Gen3 regulations in 2023.

"I was there at the beginning when we did our first air lift with the category to go into China, which followed on to Bahrain, Abu Dhabi as standalone and then a support category for Formula 1, and then over to the United States," said Howard. "That was extremely exciting.

"You saw the release of Gen3 at Bathurst. I am so excited about the Gen3 cars. It's a beautifully-engineered race car, it reflects the showroom look, it allows us to open up to more manufacturers. And an international strategy supports all of that.

"I think that's very important for our growth and our expansion."

Howard added that international expansion has the blessing of new Supercars Chairman Barclay Nettlefold and Supercars Board member Mark Skaife.

"I embrace supporting those options to be available, and Barclay and Mark's support to be able to really go after those opportunities," he said.

"Really, they've been on hold for quite a period. We've had various consultants approach us; that's not the way we did business in the past when we were very successful at securing international events. We did it ourselves. We're the best people to promote our category internationally."

Supercars first raced outside of Australia/NZ back in 2005 with an appearance at the Shanghai International Circuit.

The series then raced in Bahrain between 2006 and 2008 before returning in 2010 as part of a Middle Eastern swing that also included Abu Dhabi.

There was another standalone appearance in Abu Dhabi in 2012 before Supercars joined the support bill for the Formula 1 race at the Yas Marina circuit in 2012.

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In 2013 there was a sole trip to the United States to race at the Circuit of the Americas, however the category hasn't raced outside of Australia and NZ since.

There was a push to race in Malaysia which included a demonstration event on the streets of Kuala Lumpur in 2015, however that deal never eventuated, while there were also talks with Sepang International Circuit officials in 2017.

However talks of international races disappeared under the leadership of outgoing CEO Sean Seamer, who opted to focus on Australia and NZ, while the pandemic would have made any overseas plans impossible to execute over the past two years anyway.

A re-entry to the "international marketplace" may not be limited to events either, Nettlefold hinting that the Gen3 IP could be exported to other regions.

"There's been a strong enquiry in regards to what we're doing with the Gen3 car," he said.

"Certainly one of the key areas that Shane is focussing on is the ability, under the new structure, to really explore the international marketplace again.

"Owning the IP of Supercars is an integral part. We know we are the best international touring car competition and we want it to be proven even more.

"Everything is open. We'll certainly explore all options."

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