POLL: The Bathurst 1000 start time

The start of the 2020 Bathurst 1000

Lights out in this year’s Great Race could take place later in the day than before, and we want to know what you think of that, in this week’s Pirtek Poll.

The 2021 Repco Bathurst 1000 is shaping for a midday race start, or perhaps even later, due to the wishes of telecasters Seven and Fox Sports.

That would make for the latest start in the event’s history, but would continue a trend which began when the Seven Network previously won back the television rights, effective 2007.

Then, it was shifted from what had become the customary 10:00 to 10:30, then 11:00 in 2015, 11:10 in 2016, and 11:30 in 2019.

The 11:30 start time was originally retained for 2020, but the threat of rain saw Supercars revert to 11:00, reducing the chance that a large number of Safety Car periods would push the finish into darkness.

That Seven in particular is apparently agitating for a change is, by a certain logic, a positive sign for Supercars.

A midday start would almost certainly push the race finish into primetime, generally regarded as commencing at 18:00, when television ratings are typically highest and therefore timeslots most valued.

The network is presumably eyeing the Bathurst 1000 as a strong lead-in for its east coast news bulletins, particularly those in New South Wales and Victoria (noting that Queensland will be an hour behind those states by December).

By a similar logic, it would probably also expect ratings for the Great Race itself to be higher with a later finish.

While at least race day at the Bathurst 1000 has always been held in daylight savings since the clock change in NSW was brought forward in 2008, it is the summer months when viewing habits typically shift.

Casual viewers, however, are more likely to take in the finish if it takes place later in the day than would otherwise be the case.

Furthermore, a 12:00 AEDT start is also fairly kind to viewers in every market in the country, equating to, for example, 09:00 (AWST) in Western Australia.

It could also entice Sydney-based fans, presuming they are out of lockdown conditions by then, to make Mount Panorama a day trip on the Sunday.

However, that necessarily makes for a later return journey for anyone who attends the Bathurst 1000 and needs to work on Monday.

It is also a further break from tradition, although whether 12:00 is any more objectionable than 11:30 on that basis is questionable, given the above noted succession of changes.

What should be made clear is that the Bathurst 1000 is highly unlikely to be cut short even if the start time is pushed back.

The Great Race is typically the only one on the calendar which does not have a prescribed time-certain finish, and an early-December sunset in Bathurst should occur just before 20:00.

Once accounting for the sighting lap, which is what actually starts at the advertised start time, that leaves a touch over seven hours and 50 minutes from lights out until sunset.

Even the longest race in history, being the remarkable 2014 edition which featured a red flag period lasting around an hour, was won in 7:58:53.2052s.

No other race has taken longer than seven-and-a-half hours since 1974, and only one other in the last decade has exceed seven hours.

Furthermore, even if a similar weather forecast to last year’s came to pass, Supercars could simply move the start time forward yet again.

What do you think? Would you like a later start time for the Great Race or not? Cast your vote in this week’s Pirtek Poll?

Pirtek Poll

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