UPDATED - The plans of many motorsport fans have been once again dashed, with the huge Bathurst International Festival originally set down for November cancelled due to COVID-19 travel restriction uncertainty.
More than 350 racers and more than 2000 support crews were down to attend the multi-category event.
"Unfortunately, the current COVID situation in Australia and the timeline for border closures remains fluid with no definitive criteria known for the critical NSW/Vic border and only proposed indicative dates which are very conditional on significant milestones and criteria for some other states as to when border controls and quarantine requirements may change," read a statement.
"Due to that fact that the majority of the competing teams are located outside NSW and the nature of these teams is such that the majority of them have other commercial businesses or interests that preclude them from being able to enter a mandatory quarantine period of 14 days either prior to or post the event (depending on their state of origin) the event could only operate successfully with the lifting of border restrictions and mandatory quarantine periods."
The only event from the multiple categories on the bill - including a last-hurrah gathering of racing Holdens - that has any sort of forward vision is the Bathurst 6-Hour, which will likely return to its traditional Easter home.
This puts a lid on TCR returning to the track for 2020, in a year where the Supercars series completed almost 30 races over an abbreviated calendar.
The Bathurst 1000 will go ahead next weekend as planned, marking the finale of the 2020 season.
Statement in full;
The Australian Racing Group and Bathurst Regional Council have made the difficult decision to postpone the November debut of the new Bathurst International event at Mount Panorama until 2021.
The decision was based on a number of COVID related operational impacts on what was to have been the largest Bathurst event for the year with the Bathurst 6 Hour supported by sprint races featuring TCR Australia, S5000, Touring Car Masters, Trans Am, Porsche Sprint Challenge, Radical, Heritage Touring Cars, Excel Challenge and the Holden Bathurst Revival. This would have resulted in over 350 race cars and drivers coupled with over 2000 support crew and volunteers in attendance at the event. COVID safe operating plans and other risk mitigation protocols had been developed to ensure that the event could occur.
Due to that fact that the majority of the competing teams are located outside NSW and the nature of these teams is such that the majority of them have other commercial businesses or interests that preclude them from being able to enter a mandatory quarantine period of 14 days either prior to or post the event (depending on their state of origin) the event could only operate successfully with the lifting of border restrictions and mandatory quarantine periods.
Unfortunately, the current COVID situation in Australia and the timeline for border closures remains fluid with no definitive criteria known for the critical NSW/Vic border and only proposed indicative dates which are very conditional on significant milestones and criteria for some other states as to when border controls and quarantine requirements may change.
The lead time required on transport, accommodation, local suppliers, broadcast teams, support services and infrastructure is now at a critical phase and this has resulted in there now being no other option other than to delay the debut of this new event until 2021.
ARG and the BRC have now turned their attention to the 2021 Bathurst 6 Hour event, to be held on its traditional Easter long weekend date (April 2-4).
The event will once again be headlined with the famous Hi-Tec Oils Bathurst 6 Hour race for production cars which will feature a number of new innovations to increase the broadcast and profile of the production car race.
The date for the 2021 Bathurst International will be confirmed in due course and, like this year’s planned event, is expected to be held towards the end of the calendar year, offering the chance for the world’s best cars and stars to compete at the famous Mount Panorama circuit.
Refunds will be provided to anyone who purchased tickets to the event. Refunds will be automatically processed by Ticketmaster within 5-7 business days.
Refunds will be provided to anyone who purchased a campsite to the event. Refunds will be processed within 12-14 business days. If after 14 business days campers have not received a refund, please contact the Bathurst Regional Council on (02) 6333 6111.
Aug 2020- Holden's motorsport heritage will be celebrated at Bathurst in November, with the addition of a one-off Holden-only category within the newest event at the world-famous Mount Panorama circuit in Bathurst, NSW.
The Holden Bathurst Revival will see up to 100 racing Holdens hit the mountain for a series of sessions within the Bathurst International race meeting which will pay tribute to all eras of the company's motorsport history, from competition variants of the first-ever Holden model, the 48-215, through to modern touring cars.
Organisers say that eligibility extends to Holdens from almost every circuit racing category that the marque has ever run, including Group N and Improved Production/Club Cars, as well as mothballed series like the V8 Utes, Commodore Cup and Future Tourer categories.
The event, according to the Australian Racing Group (ARG), will offer participants a unique and affordable opportunity to drive their racing Holden on Australia’s most iconic racing circuit, with 60 minutes of track time on offer.
Underpinning the Bathurst International Festival – tentatively set down for late November 2020 - is a 500km two-driver TCR International race, supported by on-point categories like S5000, Trans Am 2 and Touring Car Masters.
As well, Le Man-spec LMP3 cars will compete around one of the world’s most iconic circuits, rounding out a truly spectacular feast for the eyes and ears.
The TCR enduro will underpin Mt Panorama’s fifth event for 2020, with teams from Australia and New Zealand forming the bulk of the field. Australia’s TCR series kicked off in 2019, while TCR New Zealand will debut in 2020.
Teams and drivers from other TCR series around the world will also be invited to race in the non-points paying event. Organisers are anticipating a field that could top 55 cars for the race.
"Bathurst is one of the best race tracks in the world – it’s a kind of mix between Spa and Macau,” said current WTCR driver – and former Bathurst 1000 racer - Andy Priaulx, who hails from the UK.
“It will be fantastic to drive there in a TCR car that will perform really well over the top. I have very fond memories of my previous experiences on the circuit and I am sure that the TCR race will provide a very exciting show.”
The S5000 field, meanwhile, will likely be bolstered by top-class open wheel racers from across the globe. Former Ferrari driver Rubens Barrichello took part in the series’ opening round at Sandown in September, while one-time A1GP racer John Martin, former Australian Gold Star winner James Winslow and current Supercars young guns Anton de Pasquale and Will Brown have all been linked to the series.
“I feel that the S5000s are going to produce some unbelievable racing and lap times,” said former Gold Star winner, John Bowe. “Those cars will be very fast and there’s no doubt that their power and handling will see the lap record be broken.
“The S5000s is a true driver’s class. Bathurst is a circuit that is not for the faint-hearted on the best of days, so the addition of S5000 will make for a true racing spectacle.”
Another series that will be well worth watching will be TA2, which will open entries to Australian and overseas teams. The V8-powered spaceframe cars – think of them as a bridge between NASCAR and Supercars - are loud, fast and spectacular, and are perfectly suited to a track like Bathurst.
The appearance of Le Mans Prototypes on The Mountain is also a big coup for organisers, the Australian Racing Group. The LMP3 cars (below) are known as closed prototypes, and they use a control naturally aspirated Nissan V8 that produces around 313kW. Not bad for a 900kg car!
Rounding out the support card will be Touring Car Masters, with teams from New Zealand and the US expected to make the trip to Australia.
Matt Braid (left) with Bathurst lord mayor Cr Bobby Bourke
“This event was presented as a true opportunity to bring a new international focus to Bathurst," said Australian Racing Group CEO, Matt Braid. "Up to now, there have been limited opportunities for international drivers to compete at Australia’s best race track in cars they are used to racing in their home series."
What series are you most looking forward to seeing at the Bathurst International next year? Let us know below!