Plans for a multi-discipline motorsport festival for Bathurst’s Mount Panorama track in 2020 have been revealed – and it’s a motorsport nerd’s wildest dream come true.
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!