Supercars responds to Challenge Bathurst date stance
Wednesday 11th August, 2021 - 11:29am
Supercars has responded to Challenge Bathurst’s insistence that the Repco Bathurst 1000 may not run on its new date.
Challenge Bathurst is scheduled for November 11-14 while the Bathurst 1000 was moved to November 4-7 as part of the latest suite of calendar changes, the aim being to maximise the chance of entertaining a meaningful crowd at the Great Race.
However, management of the former holds an exclusion period over the fortnight prior to the event, and maintains that it largely needs to be honoured in order to facilitate set-up for its own event.
Supercars claims that it offered compensation to Challenge Bathurst, and furthermore is of the position that the Bathurst 1000 can be accommodated on its new date, notwithstanding its proximity to Challenge Bathurst.
The championship has also confirmed that it considers the apparent compromise offer of October 28-31 to be infeasible, given that falls on the weekend after the Bunnings Trade Phillip Island SuperSprint.
“The agreement for Challenge Bathurst is held by the Bathurst Regional Council, and therefore this is a matter for them to resolve given they had agreed to both events,” a Supercars spokesperson told Speedcafe.com.
“Alternative dates were part of a broad discussion, that included support for, and compensation to, the organisers of Challenge Bathurst, but the weekend that was proposed (October 28-31) would have created a back to back event with Phillip Island which is not feasible when teams need to prepare for the biggest event on the annual motorsport calendar.
“Supercars has yet to receive any operational evidence suggesting that both events can’t coexist on the nominated dates. At all times, Supercars has remained open to discussion and negotiation with all parties.”
Bathurst Regional Council general manager David Sherley told Speedcafe.com last night that it is still seeking a resolution to the impasse, but confirmed that November 4-7 does fall within an exclusive use period.
Sherley noted the disruption which COVID-19 has caused, including complications in scheduling motorsport events.
“Council continues to hold ongoing discussions with our event partners for events based at Mount Panorama Motor Racing Circuit, including with Supercars and the operators of Challenge Bathurst,” he said.
“Council will continue to honour its existing contractual agreements for motorsport events at Mount Panorama Motor Racing Circuit.
“The weekend of November 4-7 does fall within the exclusive use period for the Challenge Bathurst event.
“We continue to work with our partners in a bid to resolve issues surrounding the running of these events.
“The current COVID-19 outbreak is posing many difficulties for all sporting categories in scheduling events, not just motor racing.
“Council looks forward to a return of motor racing to the Mountain later this year, and that racing provides a huge economic stimulus to the community.”
For Supercars, the November 4-7 weekend gives it the greatest chance of having a large crowd at Mount Panorama, as it maximises the time in which COVID-19 restrictions in both regional New South Wales and Sydney might be lifted.
Assuming the Gold Coast 500, a street circuit event which is supposed to close out the season on December 3-5, cannot be moved around, there is no later time this year when the Bathurst 1000 can be held.
A shift forward, even to October 28-31, diminishes the prospect of race fans being able to attend, after they were virtually locked out last year.
Challenge Bathurst, however, is keen to protect its event, which typically attracts an entry list at or near capacity.
Over 400 cars were entered in 2019, and over 300 last year.