Gold Coast shaping for date change in 2022 return

The 2019 Gold Coast 600

The Gold Coast appears almost certain to be dropped from the 2021 Repco Supercars Championship but could return on a new date in 2022.

Supercars’ annual event at Queensland’s Glitter Strip was to have closed out this year’s season but has seemingly fallen victim to COVID-related pragmatism for the second year in a row.

While the championship has taken in two events on a temporary Queensland track in each of the last two years, on consecutive weekends in Townsville on both occasions, the characteristics of the Surfers Paradise Street Circuit make it an especially bold proposition while ever there is a not immaterial threat of COVID lockdowns.

It is therefore likely that the Repco Bathurst 1000 will once again be the final stop on the calendar, on the first weekend of December when the Boost Mobile Gold Coast 500 was to have featured.

However, South East Queensland’s own iconic motorsport event is tipped for a return next year, and furthermore for a potential shift to the first half of the season.

Should that come to pass, it would mark its second move in as many years.

‘Indy’ and then the Gold Coast 600 had come to be a fixture in mid- to late-October, and fell on the second weekend after the Bathurst 1000 every year from 2002 to 2019.

It was set for similar timing last year, before being cut as a result of the pandemic, but would have rounded out the Supercars season this time around in a new early-December slot.

That change arose for multiple reasons, chiefly the South Australian government’s axing of the Adelaide 500 which was being lined up as the finale.

The Adelaide 500 was contractually entitled to its by then traditional season-opener status, but had been set to swap that bookend position with the other, which was held by the New South Wales Government.

This year’s championship did indeed open in NSW, with the Mount Panorama 500 serving as a convenient placeholder for the Newcastle 500 given the infeasibility of not only that street event, but also a truly international Bathurst 12 Hour as fans and competitors have come to know it.

Now, circumstances could also see to it that the 2021 season ends where it started.

As for the Gold Coast, a move to the first half of the Supercars calendar in 2022 would be, in a sense, history repeating.

From its inaugural 1991 running through to 1997, it fell somewhere from mid-March to early-April, and opened the CART World Series on the first four of those occasions.

The change to October put what was variously known as the Gold Coast IndyCar Grand Prix, Indy Carnival, or Gold Coast Indy 300 as one of the later stops on the calendar.

It was the very last in 2008, the year in which CART/Champ Car and IndyCar became united, and that non-championship affair remains the last race for North American open-wheelers on the streets of Surfers Paradise.

When would-be replacement A1GP collapsed just before the 2009 event, the Supercars Championship ended up holding four races, although officially two in two parts each.

The ‘Gold Coast 600’ was born in 2010, comprised of a pair of 300km races with an international co-driver element, before the latter was dropped and the event was brought into the then-new Pirtek Enduro Cup in 2013.

For a brief period in 2018, it looked as though the Gold Coast would become a single-race 500km enduro, and a night race had at one point been planned for 2020.

Today, it was confirmed that Supercars’ Phillip Island event has been cancelled, with the remainder of the 2021 calendar now likely to be announced next week.

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