Bid to lure GP to Sydney?

Sydney is lining up a bid to lure the Australian Grand Prix from Melbourne, using a course including a long straight over the iconic Harbour Bridge, officials said yesterday.

New South Wales state premier Mike Baird said if he wins re-election as predicted on March 28, efforts would begin to bring the race from Melbourne, where it has been held for 20 years.

"I believe we have sat back too long and let Melbourne take all the events it wants," Baird said.

"We've grown our own events, we've boosted the budget and we want the best events for this city. We'll do it on the basis that it brings economic benefits to this state."

Rod McGeoch, who led Sydney's 2000 Olympics bid, would front a bid team of experts.

They would study the benefits and costs of staging the race which currently opens the Formula One season and reportedly costs Melbourne US$46 million ($63.9m) a year to host.

But Australian Grand Prix Corporation chairman Ron Walker hit back by saying the event, which will be held tomorrow at Melbourne's Albert Park, was locked into the Victoria state capital until at least 2020.

"(Baird's) team of advisers have advised him very wrongly," Walker told ABC television.

"We have a contract with (Formula One Group chief executive Bernie) Ecclestone until 2020 and we have another five-year option... so it's a long time before Sydney could even think about it."

- AFP.