Dunlop Series teams and drivers have been left aggrieved by the category’s omission from the 2016 Clipsal 500 Adelaide schedule.
Event organisers from the showpiece Adelaide season opener announced their 2016 support bill last week which sees the Aussie Racing Car Series replace the second-tier V8 Supercars class.
Although V8 Supercars says it is yet to finalise the Dunlop Series calendar, a Clipsal 500 spokesman has told Speedcafe.com that there are no plans to change its announced line-up.
A Dunlop Series round has featured on the support bill at the event since 2003 but, according to the event’s market research, was not popular enough with fans to warrant a return.
The omission has upset many in the Dunlop Series paddock with the Clipsal 500 event regarded as a vital part of the calendar thanks to its large crowd and status as a free-to-air television round.
Matt Stone Racing driver Todd Hazelwood is one driver expected to be hurt the most by the decision.
The 20-year-old South Australian relies heavily on local sponsors and fundraising efforts to help pay for his Dunlop Series campaign and is concerned about the affect it will have on his program next year.
“It’s a huge blow for the category and the teams look forward to going to the event,” Hazelwood told Speedcafe.com.
“It is a significant loss for us. It is my home event, we got a lot of sponsors on board just for the one event. Our fanbase is huge in Adelaide so there will be a lot of people missing out that.
“There are two South Australians in this championship and we rely heavily on that round to fund us to get through the year so it is a big loss in the pocket.
“Having the Clipsal 500 on the calendar makes it a national series. If all the rounds are based in the eastern seaboard you can’t get your major sponsors on board because it doesn’t work for them.
“If you can race in every state that is the perfect situation.”
Facing the prospect of a season without the Clipsal 500, Hazelwood hopes the Dunlop Series can be added to other high profile events such as the Sandown 500 or the Gold Coast 600.
“Clipsal being at the start of the year is a lot of interest, there are 180,000 people that go to the event,” added Hazelwood.
“If you could replace it, the grand prix would be the best case scenario but obviously that is hard to be a part of.
“That would be best for us being at a big event. Ultimately if we can race at Sandown or maybe racing at Gold Coast that would be good.”