V8 Supercars executive chairman Tony Cochrane has announced he will retire from the role by the end of the 2012 championship season.

Cochrane, who has played a leading role in the sport’s growth since its inception 15 years ago, confirmed the news in a statement.

Cochrane will continue his involvement with the category as an “external senior advisor to the V8 Supercars Board” for Archer Capital, the major shareholder of the series.

It is with a mixture of enormous pride and nostalgia that I will be stepping down as Executive Chairman of a sport that has been such an integral part of my life for almost two decades,” said Cochrane.

I have been honoured to represent this great sport and importantly the Teams for a very long time.

Since the successful completion of the sale process last year, I have been in ongoing dialogue with the Board about my future role and aspirations, culminating in this announcement today. Like all of these things there is never a perfect time to step down, however the sport is in tremendous shape, has an unbelievable future and we have delivered on a number of key initiatives, including the confirmation of two new marques entering the sport, delivering new events in Texas and New Zealand, and the upcoming 50th year of Bathurst which is set to be a milestone event for our sport. The Board and the senior management team are in great shape and the time feels right.

I want to take this opportunity to thank all the amazing management and staff (both past and present), along with our sponsors, media partners, and associates. In particular I want to thank the fans of this great sport for all the support they give our tremendous Teams.

I have enjoyed an amazing journey, in a sport I love with the support of so many during that journey. Today I would particularly like to thank my wife Thea, and our family along with my former SEL business partners James Erskine and Basil Scaffidi, whom I owe so much to for their unwavering support and friendship.

I am eager to embrace a new journey in whatever I choose to get involved with, be it sport, entertainment or my other entrepreneurial interests. I leave with no regrets and on my own terms at a time that I believe is right for the sport.

I am very proud of my V8 Supercar legacy and my involvement in Australian motorsport.”

Andrew Gray, Managing Director at Archer Capital and V8 Supercars Board Director, thanked Cochrane for his contributions on behalf of the category.

We would like to congratulate Tony on the extraordinary contribution he has made to the development and success of V8 Supercars,” he said.

We continue to be passionate about the future of V8 Supercars and are thrilled that Tony has agreed to continue to advise and assist us in the execution of our growth plans.”

The V8 Supercars Board will immediately commence a search for a new non-executive Chairman and Mr Cochrane will step down when an appointment is made.