The inaugural Bathurst International will not take place until 2021 after this year’s edition was cancelled due to difficulties arising from state/territory border closures.
The newly created ‘fifth Bathurst event’ was to have taken place for the first time on November 12-15, 2020 at Mount Panorama.
That date in itself represented a change from the original plans due to the incorporation of the Bathurst 6 Hour, which had been held over from its customary Easter slot due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The TCR enduro was also scrapped for the first year due to its intended international nature, but now domestic border closures have scuttled the event entirely for 2020.
Nine categories had been lined up for the 2020 Bathurst International, including a sprint round of the TCR Australia series, which organisers say represented over 350 race cars and drivers.
A COVID safe plan and other coronavirus-related protocols had been developed to account for their presence and that of the 2000-plus support crew and volunteers who were also expected to attend.
However, with no certainty over border reopenings, and therefore the possibility of quarantine requirements for the many interstate arrivals who might have other employment/obligations, it was deemed impractical to proceed with the Bathurst International this time around.
“It is obviously very disappointing to postpone the inaugural running of the Bathurst International,” said Australian Racing Group CEO Matt Braid.
“No stone was left unturned in the attempt to hold a viable and top class motorsport event, however, the border restrictions that our competitors faced made it an impossible situation.
“We have waited as long as practical to make this decision but we needed to consider local businesses, competitors and their families, our volunteers and other service providers and provide a timely decision so as not adversely impact their families, their plans or incur unnecessary costs.
“This event was not based around a singular product but a wide and varied motorsport entertainment package which involved over 2000 people attending before the inclusion of fans, families, friends, sponsors, service providers, event staff and broadcast personnel.
“To deliver an event of this magnitude required it to be delivered in the right way and in the current environment that is just not possible.
“ARG and its team has now turned its full attention to the 2021 Bathurst 6 Hour, and we can’t wait to showcase a great production car race along with other exciting categories, live and free with our broadcast partner Seven, in April next year.”
ARG’s announcement also includes the date for next year’s Bathurst 6 Hour, namely April 2-4, representing a return to the Easter long weekend.
That event is promise to feature “a number of new innovations to increase the broadcast and profile” of the Hi-Tec Oils Bathurst 6 Hour production car race which will be the headline act.
ARG has also pencilled in a similar, late-year date for the 2021 Bathurst International.
Bathurst’s mayor, Cr Bobby Bourke, added, “While it is disappointing this year’s Bathurst International will not proceed, the current COVID-19 restrictions made it difficult to bring a full field of competitors together for the inaugural event.
“We look forward to 2021 and Mount Panorama hosting the first Bathurst International and bringing the excitement of this planned new event to Bathurst.
“Council went through an extensive process to select a new fifth event for Mount Panorama and we can’t wait to see the event come to life next year.”
The 2020 Bathurst International was to have featured TCR Australia, S5000, Touring Car Masters, Trans Am, Porsche Sprint Challenge, Radical, Heritage Touring Cars, Excel Challenge, and the Holden Bathurst Revival.
Refunds will be provided to anyone who purchased tickets to the Bathurst International, and will be automatically processed to their accounts by Ticketmaster within five to seven business days.
For those who purchased a campsite, refunds will be processed within 12 to 14 business days. If the refund has not been received after 14 business days, campers should contact the Bathurst Regional Council on (02) 6333 6111.
There is no word yet on whether TCR and/or S5000, which were set to run for the bulk of their seasons on that platform, might feature, having not had any races so far this year due to the pandemic.