Race on to find name for Coast GP

AS a famous man once said “the show must go on” and that is the approach which organisers of this year's A1GP on the Gold Coast have to take after the race event lost its naming rights sponsor yesterday.

It is a major setback for the carnival, introduced to fill the void left by the withdrawal of the Indy Cars from the streets of Surfers Paradise.

Just over two months before the cars are expected to hit the streets, news was released yesterday that Nitro Distribution had failed to make payments under its naming rights contract, and as a result the race would no longer be known as the Nitro SuperGP.

Nitro Energy Drink, an Australian-owned company based on the Gold Coast, had announced on March 18 the three-year naming rights deal which was reportedly worth $1 million in its first year.

In a letter to Queensland Minister for Sport Phil Reeves, SuperGP general manager Greg Hooton explained the decision which has left organisers, the media and public wondering what to call the event.

“Gold Coast Motor Events Company (GCMEC) has been advised by Nitro that irreconcilable differences between the shareholders of Nitro have resulted in Nitro being unable to meet the full financial requirements of the sponsorship agreement, and that these issues are unlikely to be resolved in the foreseeable future,” Hooton said.

“Rather than continue speculation on the matter the (GCMEC) Partnership Committee has decided to take swift action to remove Nitro as the naming rights sponsor for the 2009 SuperGP event.

“The matter has now been placed in the hands of GCMEC's legal representatives.

“At the time of the Partnership accepting Nitro as the naming rights sponsor of the event, there was no evidence in the company and financial background searches undertaken that indicated Nitro would have difficulty in meeting their full financial commitments to the event.”

Hooton said that the decision to remove Nitro's involvement represented a “very small percentage” of the overall revenue generated by the event.

“The loss of Nitro as the naming rights sponsor for the event will have absolutely no impact on the overall presentation of the 2009 event,” Hooton said.

Premier Anna Bligh said the race organisers, not the government, had selected the sponsor, and it was they, not the taxpayer, who could be out of pocket by the deal falling through.

“This company, like many others in the wake of the global financial crisis, is unable to meet its obligations and I think that's a great pity,” Ms Bligh said.

Hooton said the race meeting featuring the A1GP cars, the V8 Supercars and a full supporting program would go ahead as planned from Thursday, October 22.

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