POLL: The Bathurst 1000 postponement

The small number of spectators at the 2020 Bathurst 1000

With the Repco Bathurst 1000 now pushed back almost a month, we ask you if that was the right call, in this week’s Pirtek Poll.

The Great Race was set to take place on its now customary date of the weekend after New South Wales’ Labour Day long weekend, on October 7-10, before the current COVID-19 outbreak in Sydney.

That outbreak has also led to restrictions in regional NSW, including a brief lockdown in an area near Bathurst where transmission of the virus occurred, and border closures around the country.

Supercars’ sole enduro of 2021 season was therefore postponed by four weeks to November 4-7, to enhance the chances of hosting a sizeable crowd at Mount Panorama.

The size of the crowd will, of course, depend on how tight density limits on outdoor gatherings are in regional NSW in early-November, whether or not Sydneysiders are allowed to leave the city – which is around two hours from Bathurst by road at its closest point – and whether or not there is free movement to and from other states and New Zealand.

However, the latter of those factors, and possibly also the Sydney-specific consideration, will also impact on the costs of competing in the Great Race itself, and/or whatever support categories will be on the bill.

Supercars demonstrated last year that the Bathurst 1000 is a non-negotiable, with Championship co-drivers and Super2 crews going through a fortnight of quarantine in either Darwin or Sydney to make the event happen.

It was last year also that the Great Race was postponed, although by just a week, to give teams more time to prepare after the Victorians had already spent 12 weeks on the road.

There can, of course, be no certainty about what will transpire in Sydney in coming weeks, nor what effect that will have on considerations referred to above.

An empty spectator area at the top of the mountain at the 2020 Bathurst 1000

Supercars expects that it will be able to race in October, as evidenced by scheduling events at Winton on the weekend before the Bathurst 1000 would have been run and Phillip Island on the old Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix date, although the latter venue is officially yet to be confirmed.

Taking the Great Race away from early- to mid-October therefore takes it away from its traditional date (long weekend) and what had become the established timing (weekend after) from 2001 onwards.

Clearly, however, a later date allows more time for the Sydney-related issues to clear, and thus to put on a more normal Bathurst 1000.

While last year’s will be remembered for the fitting send-off which Shane van Gisbergen and Garth Tander gave Holden as a factory entity at Mount Panorama, no more than 4000 spectators saw it.

That was the crowd cap for each day of the event, furthermore restricted to allocated seating at the bottom of the mountain, meaning the campgrounds were eerily quiet.

On the other hand, there is no guarantee that another outbreak somewhere on the east coast might create an issue in November, in which case aspects of the event such as fan attendance or – under extreme circumstances – the event itself are placed in jeopardy.

As the recent back-to-back Townsville events demonstrate, there is virtue also in living for the now, especially when the future is so far from certain.

What do you think? Was postponing the Bathurst 1000 the right call? Cast your vote below in this week’s Pirtek Poll.

Pirtek Poll

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