Ron Walker, the former chief of the Australian Grand Prix Formula 1 race, has died at the age of 78 following a long-running battle with cancer.

Walker took over as the head of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation (AGPC) AGPC in 1993, three years before moving the F1 race from Adelaide to Melbourne, and was a key businessman in managing sporting events in Melbourne, as well as enjoying interests in media outlets and a political career.

Walker enjoyed a close relationship with former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone before retiring from his role after the 2015 grand prix at Albert Park.

"Formula 1, on behalf of all those who knew and worked with Ron Walker, wishes to express its deepest condolences for his recent passing,” read a statement from F1.

“He was a huge supporter of the sport for many decades, and was instrumental in bringing the Grand Prix to Melbourne at the start of each season of the FIA World Championship. Walker helped lure the Australian F1 round away from Adelaide, bringing it in 1996 to Melbourne, the Victoria state capital which has remained its home ever since."

“Ron Walker was a great Australian and Victorian, who passionately loved Melbourne,” added John Harnden, current chairman of the AGPC.

“He had an enormous impact on the city and state from his early days as Lord Mayor, through to shaping the landscape of sport and major events in Victoria. His legacy is unparalleled.”

The Confederation of Australian Motor Sport (CAMS) said it was "saddened to learn of the passing of former Australian Grand Prix Corporation chairman Ron Walker", and that "his contribution to the Australian motor sport landscape will forever be remembered."

Former Australian prime minister Tony Abbot tweeted: "Australia, Victoria and Melbourne have lost a great son with Ron Walker’s passing. For decades, not much happened in Melbourne without Ron being at the centre of things.

"As well, he was a great supporter of good causes, from medical research to the Liberal Party, which he helped to keep together in tough times. He was a staunch friend and constant encouragement to successive Liberal leaders and will be much missed."

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