Former Australian GP boss Ron Walker dies

Accolades pour in for Bernie Ecclestone’s close ally – the man responsible for moving the Australian Grand Prix from Adelaide to Melbourne

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Former Australian Grand Prix boss and sports events manager Ron Walker has died aged 78.

Walker served as the Lord Mayor of Melbourne for two years from 1974, before heading the capital city’s bid to host the 1996 Olympics.

In 1993 he was also successful in instigating the transfer of the Australian Grand Prix from Adelaide to Melbourne, where it has remained since its first race at Albert Park in 1996.

Over the next 20 years Walker remained chairman for the race. During this time he became an ally of former F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone, before stepping down from the role due to his ongoing battle with cancer.

He was an outspoken businessman, and critical of the new turbo hybrid regulations that have been used in F1 since 2014.

He said: ‘Formula 1 is the pinnacle of motorsport, and yet these cars that we have lap only slightly faster than a GP2 car. They need to be faster and ultimately more exciting.

‘I don't count myself as a technical expert, but the turbo cars from the 1980s produced 1000bhp and were incredible to watch. We need to excite the senses again.’

Walker was also successful in Melbourne’s bid to host the Commonwealth Games in 2006.

Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull paid tribute to Walker on social media, tweeting: ‘Vale Ron Walker – a great Australian, magnificent Melburnian and ferociously committed Liberal. Ron was a wise and true friend to me, as he was to so many Liberal leaders. We will not see his like again. Our hearts go out to [wife] Barbara and their family at this sad time.’

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