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Bathurst TCR enduro replaced with sprint round in new ARG calendar

Daniel Herrero

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Tuesday 26th May, 2020 - 3:00pm

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TCR will still feature at the Bathurst International, but in a sprint format

TCR’s Bathurst enduro has been scaled back to a sprint round due to the disruption caused by COVID-19 under the Australian Racing Group’s revised, 2020/21 calendar.

ARG had been planning to run a 500km, two-driver race at Mount Panorama which would draw competitors from around the world as the headline act for the inaugural Bathurst International meeting.

It has had to hold off on that concept for 2020 due to the likelihood of ongoing international travel restrictions.

However, the Bathurst International event has been expanded to four days to accommodate the re-scheduled Hi-Tec Oils Bathurst 6 Hour, as flagged to Speedcafe.com earlier this year, and S5000 racing on the mountain has been reaffirmed.

Back-to-back rounds at Symmons Plains and Baskerville in 2021, collectively dubbed the ‘Festival of Motorsport’ and incorporating running on the Tuesday of Australia Day, complete out the six-round calendar.

ARG Director Matt Braid said that the temporary shelving of the Bathurst TCR enduro was unfortunate, but efforts to have some international flavour are ongoing.

“The International 500 was the original proposal for this year, (but) realistically, with the COVID-19 situation, the ability to get internationals, especially from an endurance perspective, is difficult,” he explained to Speedcafe.com.

“So, we decided to make the Bathurst International literally a TCR sprint round for TCR Australia and we are potentially going to have some drivers and maybe cars either from New Zealand and elsewhere that might participate.”

Braid also confirmed that the enduro remains the plan for 2021, stating, “The original proposal of an international TCR enduro event is absolutely the key.

“We do want to progress that going forward, but the current virus scenario has beaten us for 2020, (and) that’s why we’ve reverted to a sprint round with potentially some wildcards.

“But, the absolute focus is to make it a cornerstone event for 2021.”

The first half of ARG’s calendar incorporates three Shannons Motorsport Australia Championships meetings, as has been standard for TCR Australia and the VHT S5000 Australian Drivers’ Championship.

Those are the belated commencement of the Championships for 2020 on August 15-16 at Sydney Motorsport Park, Round 2 at Sandown in mid-September, and that platform’s fourth round at Phillip Island on an as yet unspecified date in October.

CLICK HERE for more on the new Motorsport Australia Championships calendar which was also released this afternoon

The Bathurst International holds its original November ‘weekend’ ending on Sunday 15, but now commences on the Thursday instead of the Friday.

It will include not only TCR, S5000, the 6 Hour, and the Holden Bathurst Revival demonstrations which will feature a brand-new 24 Hour-spec Monaro, but also trophy races for Gulf Western Oils Touring Car Masters and the National Trans Am Series.

The Symmons Plains round will span Sunday, January 24 to Australia Day, followed by the visit to Baskerville Raceway, north of Hobart, on the following weekend (January 30-31).

The presence of those circuits represents the debut of TCR, S5000, and Trans Am in Tasmania, with the open-wheelers racing at the former circuit and conducting demonstrations at the latter.

All six events will be televised on the Seven Network, including live streaming on its 7plus streaming service.

“It’s been an unprecedented crisis and its effect on motorsport all around the world has been huge,” said Braid in ARG’s announcement.

“Through it all, we are really pleased that we are able to confirm a condensed, dynamic racing schedule combining fresh new events along with racing at some of Australia’s best circuits, all to be delivered into every Australian home via our broadcast partner, the Seven Network.

“We are very pleased that Garry Rogers, with his extensive network and business relationships in Tasmania, has been instrumental in leading negotiations with local representatives to secure two new back-to-back events in Tasmania.

“This is a significant opportunity for ARG and our teams, drivers and sponsors. The roar of world class V8 powered open wheeler racing coupled with TCR and Trans Am all debuting in Tasmania at Symmons Plains and Baskerville will be a fantastic spectacle.

“We’d like to thank our categories and their teams, drivers and sponsors for their support during this trying period. I am sure it’s been both challenging and frustrating at times but I think from this has evolved a truly outstanding calendar and suite of events for 2020.”

All five of the rounds with confirmed dates avoid clashes with the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship’s new-look calendar, which had been a consideration for ARG in part due to its television production contract with Supercars Media.

Australian Racing Group 2020/21 calendar

Rnd Venue Date
1 Sydney Motorsport Park Aug 15-16
2 Sandown Sep 12-13
3 Phillip Island Oct TBA-TBA
4 Bathurst Nov 12-15
5 Symmons Plains Jan 24-26
6 Baskerville Jan 30-31

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