Formula Nippon for Perth

THE stage is set for Perth to host the first round of the Formula Nippon championship in 2003.

With plans for a $30 million racetrack facility near the Perth airport awaiting approval, the development also might have a positive impact on WA’s road toll if Westrend Corporation, International Motor Sports Management director Ross Roberts gets his way.

Westrend Corporation have signed a five-year deal with Formula Nippon, Japan’s domestic formula one competition, to start the 2003 season in Perth in February.

The premier event is expected to attract thousands of tourists to Perth from what is one of this state’s biggest tourist markets, Japan.

The benefits of having a permanent international race-track in Perth extend well beyond high-profile events such as Formula Nippon and Le Mans.

It was Mr Roberts’ involvement in the V8 Supercars competition that spurned him to investigate the possibility of other high profile motor racing events in Perth.

“We bought Don Panos over here who owns Le Mans,” Mr Roberts said.

“He wanted to bring Le Mans out but said building in the city is not the way to go,

“I wanted to build a driver training facility and he said utilise the driver training facility for a track.”

Year-long driver training courses are now part of the school curriculum in schools in the US and there are statistics that suggest these programs have lowered the road toll by up to 37 per cent.

“The track is designed so that different areas can be used for different people, including driver training, tyre and vehicle testing,” Mr Roberts said.

“I quite like Panos … it opened my eyes to what Perth could do.”

Westrend envisages that the facility will pay for itself once it is built through revenue raised from these activities.

The $30 million needed to build the track is being raised through private investors, West-rend Corporation has already raised about $1.5 million to carry out environmental studies and approvals.

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