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Strong a great fit for V8s, says Whincup
By Will Knight
17:18 AEST Wed Nov 28 2012

Holden's four-time champion Jamie Whincup welcomed the recruitment of leading businessman James Strong as the new V8 Supercars chairman on Wednesday as a massive coup for the sport.

The former Qantas chief executive, who recently stepped down as chairman of Woolworths, was appointed to replace long-serving chairman Tony Cochrane.

Strong arrives with a strong background in motorsport as a director of Dorna Sports, which manages MotoGP worldwide, and former Australian Grand Prix Corporation board member.

When told of the announcement, Whincup, who takes an unassailable drivers' championship lead into this weekend's final two 250km races at Sydney Olympic Park, was glowing in his praise.

"Geez, is there anyone else better for the job?" asked Whincup.

"He's absolutely top notch. Exactly what the sport needs.

"Tony's (Cochrane) heart and soul has driven the sport for years and they're big shoes to fill but I'm very confident from (Strong's) past record he can certainly pick up from where Tony left off."

One of Strong's immediate goals is to finalise a new media rights deal, which is due to be announced next month and is reportedly valued at about $350 million over five years.

The Australian-based championship currently includes rounds in New Zealand and Abu Dhabi and will enter the United States next year with a round in Austin, Texas.

Whincup believes Strong needs to look at expanding the current 15-race schedule and particularly examine the possibility of taking the V8 show to the TV-friendly Asian region.

"We do need to finetune our appearances overseas so I think he can go a long way in achieving that," said Whincup.

"I wouldn't mind going up through the Asian countries but probably not get too far away from our time zones so the guys back here in Australia can watch it.

"So draw a line up from Perth and Sydney and there are plenty of Asian countries with awesome tracks that we can visit during the year."

Strong also arrives as the V8 Supercars championship prepares to enter a new era next year, with traditional rivals Holden and Ford to be joined by teams racing Nissan and Mercedes cars.

"All forms of motorsport are a passion of mine," Strong, who was appointed as a non-executive chairman, said in a statement.

"V8 Supercars is without doubt the leading motorsport category in this region and a force worldwide.

"The sport is in wonderful shape for the future and I want to play an active part in the next period of evolution. The potential is unlimited."