THE McLaren F1 team will race at the Japanese Grand Prix this October — but its boss is bunking off to be at the Bathurst 1000 instead.
Zak Brown, the multi-millionaire businessman and marketing guru, will enjoy his first Supercars race trackside as a team owner this weekend as he dovetails his responsibilities with McLaren alongside his co-ownership of Walkinshaw Andretti United.
It marks the second race in succession that one of the team’s high-profile international co-owners joins the squad trackside following IndyCar team chief Michael Andretti’s visit to the Adelaide 500.
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Although the Australian Grand Prix weekend marks the only time the F1 and Supercars calendars will overlap in 2018, Brown is hoping to make it to a handful of events during the year.
“I’m gonna hope to get to three-four races, and I think Michael (Andretti, fellow co-owner) is gonna get to three or four races,” he told media behind the Walkinshaw Andretti United garage at Albert Park.
“So between the two of us hopefully we’ll make half of them.”
For Brown, that list includes the Bathurst 1000.
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Despite its date clash with F1’s annual trip to Suzuka, Brown has long fancied a trip to The Great Race.
“No, I’m gonna do Bathurst. I’ll miss the Japanese Grand Prix, I’ll go to Bathurst,” he said.
“I’ve always wanted to go to Bathurst and I think McLaren will survive without me for the weekend.
“That and it’s obviously the biggest race, a lot of our commercial partners will be there.
“But to me, Bathurst (is like) Le Mans, Indy 500, Monaco. It’s of that calibre.”
Brown said the scope of his role with McLaren means his presence trackside isn’t essential.
“No, they’re very comfortable with my racing involvements,” he said.
“McLaren always comes first, but on a race weekend, my role is a leadership role, a commercial role.
“I’m not helping them make faster pit stops, so I go to about 15 grand prix a year, I miss five or six.”
Brown said he expects to also attend the Gold Coast 600 and one other race yet to be identified.
“(I’m) gonna kind of wait for the team to tell me which one they think I can be most useful at,” he said.