Repco denies poaching the Bathurst 1000 backing

Repco has responded to claims from business rival Supercheap Auto that it poached the naming rights backing of the Bathurst 1000.

Repco denies poaching the Bathurst 1000 backing

The two automotive accessories retailers did battle over the naming rights of the Great Race last year, Repco ultimately successful in its bid for the deal.

That came as part of a significant spend on Supercars that also included the naming rights for the entire series.

The Bathurst deal spelt the end of a 16-year relationship between the event and Supercheap, the company responding with a clever media campaign.

Supercheap's managing director Benjamin Ward immediately got on the front foot, telling News Limited that the company had lost the deal before it had been formally announced.

In the same interview he positioned Supercheap's exit as the result of a "big-money" offer from an "overseas competitor".

The reference to an "overseas competitor" was directed at Genuine Parts Company, which took over Repco back in 2013.

Supercheap then rolled out a light-hearted TV ad campaign featuring a bumbling spokesperson holding a fake press conference.

The spokesperson came across as a jilted lover that had been "dumped" by Supercars, the campaign running throughout the coverage of last year's Bathurst 1000.

Repco declined to respond at the time and has only now opened up on the controversy around the Bathurst 1000 deal.

According to Repco's Head of Sponsorship Mitch Wiley the brand was impressed with Supercheap's response from a marketing perspective.

However he says the insinuation that Repco poached the race wasn't necessarily fair.

"We actually thought their campaign around the Bathurst 1000 was pretty clever," Wiley told Motorsport.com.

"We don't want to take anything away from clever marketing.

"But to be completely honest, the reality around them losing the race... more often than not there's two sides to every story. For whatever reason, it will remain commercial in confidence between Supercars and Supercheap Auto, the Bathurst 1000 was put to market.

"I highly doubt that we were the only ones at the table with Supercars. It was an awesome opportunity, of course we were going to look at it. We were happy to invest in this sport and protect its future.

"And if it wasn't us that took the naming rights, its highly likely it would have been another brand.

"Put yourself in our shoes; we're a passionate automotive brand and the opportunity to jump into this sport was there. Of course we were going to take it."

Wiley also questioned Supercheap's claims that it had been out-bid by a multi-national, based on the shareholding of Supercheap's parent company the Super Retail Group.

"On the foreign ownership front, they might want to have a look at some of their own shareholders before they beat that drum too hard," he said.

"The reality is that Repco has been contributing to automotive in Australia and New Zealand for almost a century. We have more than 4000 Repco crew members we look after, who also happen to be massive Supercars fans."

Supercheap has continued it ambush marketing approach this year, backing a sensational wildcard entry for veteran Russell Ingall and highly-rated teenager Broc Feeney.

The pair will team up in a Triple Eight-run Holden for what could be a dress rehearsal for Feeney's potential full-time promotion to Jamie Whincup's seat next year.

Repco was linked to a similar wildcard project but has since confirmed that won't be happening.

According to Wiley the Supercheap wildcard was an expected retaliation, with the high-profile entry a welcome addition to the race as far as Repco is concerned.

"We think it's awesome. We can't wait to welcome them to the Repco Bathurst 1000," he said.

"To be honest, on our whiteboard it was the short-odds favourite as to how they might respond. But we're looking forward to having Russell at The Mountain.

"We have genuine respect for the amount of investment [Supercheap has] put into motorsport."

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