Seamer downplays chances of January start for 2020 season

The Supercars Championship calendar could change significantly in 2020

Supercars CEO Sean Seamer has downplayed the chances of next year’s championship starting in January despite moves to a ‘summer series’ calendar.

The 2020 season had been tipped to kick off in the first month of the year when Sydney Motorsport Park would make its return to the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship.

However, Adelaide’s contractual right to host the first event of the season, which the promoter is ‘committed’ to, would have made such a plan problematic.

Seamer also pointed to the number of significant local and international motorsport events which already take place in or just after January as reasons to not begin the season so soon in the year.

“You look at January, right? You’ve got Dubai, you’ve got an Asian Le Mans round at Tailem Bend, you’ve got Daytona, you’ve got the 12 Hour, you’ve got to get a test in…” he said on the Below the Bonnet podcast.

“There’s a lot going on in January already.”

This year, the Roar Before The 24 was held from January 4-6, Creventic’s 24H Dubai from January 10-12, the 24 Hours of Daytona from January 24-27, and the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour from January 31-February 3, before the Supercars Championship official pre-season test day on February 14.

The Asian Le Mans Series has already locked in The Bend Motorsport Park for the second round of its 2019/20 season on January 10-12.

When asked specifically about speculation that the Supercars season would open at Sydney Motorsport Park on the third weekend of January, Seamer responded, “No, that’s incorrect.”

Complicating matters further for Supercars is that the Australian Open, the first grand slam tennis tournament of the year, has been shifted back a week for 2020 and will finish on February 2.

As such, the men’s final would fall on the same day as the Bathurst 12 Hour race if the latter continues its creep forward as per the pattern of the calendar.

Seamer nominated that as one of the many considerations in piecing together a calendar, while reiterating a desire to move event into slots which are more favourable climactically.

“The key is, at a macro level what we want to try and do is get some of these events into better weather patterns,” he explained on the podcast.

“A, that’s better for fans when they come to the track because it’s not wet, windy, and cold; b, it helps get us away from the NRL and AFL, who we love and respect, but have quite a bit of fan overlap with; and c, it helps us be a little bit more innovative with our formats because we’ve got more daylight, and then you can run twilight and be in prime time TV.

“The premise is, ‘Let’s start a little bit earlier, let’s finish a little bit later, and take a break potentially through July, August, September, or around there, August, September.’

“Then the second piece of it is, ‘How do we get the turnaround times right, how do we get the number of events right, so that we can take a bit of pressure off the teams?’

“It’s tricky in that you’ve got the Australian Open, you’ve got Melbourne Cup, you’ve got AFL, NRL, next year we’ve got the Olympics… it’s not easy to navigate the whole thing, but there is a way forward and there is a way through that.

“So (we are aiming for) better turnaround times for the teams, better windows of weather for people that are attending the events, but also for us to broadcast in, it gives us the opportunity to innovate with the scheduling and the formats as well.”

Supercars has already shaken up this year’s calendar by swapping Sandown and Pukekohe, making for a break of tradition that will see the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 on October 10-13 open the Pirtek Enduro Cup.

Night racing has been moved to Barbagallo Wanneroo Raceway with the Pirtek Perth SuperNight next up on May 2-4.

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