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Supercars looks to strike balance with two-day events in 2021

Simon Chapman

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Thursday 2nd July, 2020 - 6:00am

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Two-day events are likely to feature throughout 2021

Two-day race weekends look set to feature throughout the Supercars season in 2021, though hallmark events will likely keep traditional three- and four-day formats.

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the resumption of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship has seen the majority of race weekends condensed to two-day formats.

The only event this season in the revised 2020 calendar that won’t be a two-day event is the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000, which will take place over four days on October 8-11.

Supercars is slated to release its 2021 calendar in early October, which could see two-day formats become the norm.

As the championship looks to cut costs in the wake of COVID-19, Supercars Commission member and team owner Brad Jones said the category may look to strike a balance between short and long events in future.

“I think when we set up for a street (circuit), I think they probably need to be three-day events,” Jones told Speedcafe.com.

“But I think our events like what we saw on the weekend (at Sydney Motorsport Park), and the majority of the events we do – the traditional race circuits – I think the two-day format is fine for that stuff.

“I think a sample size of one isn’t a great case for longterm decision-making, but in saying that, I think by the end of the year we’ll have a pretty good idea.

“I think two-day racing is probably here to stay, except for some big events, but time will tell.

“Certainly for this year, it’s the right way for us to go. It worked out pretty well (in Sydney), as long as we put all our support caps in, I think it’s the way of the future.”

Three-day events have long been a staple of the Supercars calendar, with Friday typically reserved for practice while Saturday and Sunday see qualifying and races take place.

The likes of the season-opening Adelaide 500, Formula 1 supporting Melbourne 400, and crown jewel Bathurst 1000 have all traditionally run for four days.

The last time Supercars ran a two-day event prior to the coronavirus pandemic was in 2018 with the inaugural Sydney SuperNight, which comprised just one 300km race.

Fellow Supercars Commission member and Tickford Racing team owner Tim Edwards said Supercars has to be conscious not to go all-in on two-day events in future.

Edwards identified short (SuperSprint), medium (street-based), and long events (Pirtek Enduro Cup) likely requiring different weekend lengths to suit.

“I can’t imagine Adelaide, for instance, would ever move away from that,” Edwards said of the current four-day programme.

“There are the traditional ones, Adelaide, Townsville. those sort of events, they’ve become the norm for those events.

“You’ve got to be careful you don’t just go 100 percent into something.

“I think what the category has always done quite well is mix it up between short, medium, and long.

“Obviously, long is Bathurst and that will never change, and so I think a healthy mix is good.”

Asked whether there were any fears that Supercars might be devalued by dropping Friday running from its events, Jones said he didn’t believe it would be a problem.

“I don’t think so many people watch it on Friday, I don’t think that’s going to be a big issue,” said Jones.

“People are freer to watch it on weekends.”

Team 18 owner Charlie Schwerkolt watched the resumption of the Supercars season from his Gold Coast base.

Amid a tough financial period, Schwerkolt said he’s keen to see two-day formats stay in an effort to cut costs.

“I think these two-day formats are really important,” he said.

“I think it condenses it all to two really exciting days, it keeps our costs down, it is really important.

“That’s probably the main thing for me, it’s so important to do that and put on a really good show for two days.

“The racing was really, really good. There were some really good battles out there. There were some cars three-wide and everyone having a good go.”

Likes Jones, Schwerkolt was also not concerned about the condensing of race weekends would have any adverse effect on the value of the championship.

“As long as on Friday afternoon we get to an event and we’re going to Bunnings Warehouse or any of our other partners or whatever we’ve got to do, I think that’s okay,” said Schwerkolt.

“I don’t see that it’s a problem. I’m a big fan of it.”

Jones also hailed the shorter format, which consisted of two practice sessions, qualifying, a top 15 shootout and a race on Saturday before two qualifying sessions and two races on Sunday.

“When you consider all the problems and issues that we’ve had, to get to where we were on the weekend, it was an amazing event,” said Jones.

“That’s probably the best race meeting we’ve seen for a long time.”

The forthcoming Truck Assist Winton SuperSprint is expected to be replaced by a second successive round at Sydney Motorsport Park.

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