News

ANALYSIS: THE FIFTH BATHURST EVENT

ONE OF the biggest stories of the year has been the Bathurst Regional Council’s decision to open up to tender the opportunity to promote a fifth event on the hallowed, 6.213km circuit on Mount Panorama.

WORDS: Richard Craill IMAGES: Supplied

It instantly created plenty of discussion on the internet community as to what shape the new event could take, who would run it and what kind of cars would race there.

Yesterday, the Bathurst Regional Council released their list of five organisations to have successfully submitted a document for their investigation. Some names listed were no surprise (Hello, ARG and Supercars) while others raised some eyebrows.

The council then confirmed today via an updated release that they had also received a sixth application from global endurance racing promoter, Creventic.

We’ve had a look at each of the nominations and broken them down into three quick questions: Who are they? What would they promote? and, What are their chances?

We’ll see if we’re on the money when and if Council confirm their decision.

MOUNTAIN MOTORSPORTS

WHO ARE THEY? Mountain Motorsports promote the AASA Tarmac Rally Championship, a four-round rally series that includes the Mt. Baw Baw Sprint, Lake Mountain Sprint, Snowy River Sprint and Great Tarmac Rally.

Most notably, they are sanctioned by the AASA, the CAMS-rival sanctioning body that also promotes the Australian Motor Racing Series and a growing number of events around Australia – including at The Bend Motorsport Park for the first time this year.

WHAT WOULD THEY PROMOTE? Who knows? The format of their event could be anything from an endurance race, an AMRS round or a Rally – though the latter would certainly be a left-field choice for the Council to select given sections of Mount Panorama are already used for Hillclimb events, and have been used in the past for rounds of the New South Wales and Australian Rally Championships.

WHAT ARE THEIR CHANCES? Hard to say. The Bathurst Council confirmed to Speedcafe.com that they would be open to running AASA events on the Mountain, so the appropriately-named Mountain Motorsport may be their chosen vessel to do just that.

Of the five tenders, it’s probably this one that raises the most questions about what they would intend to do.

AUSTRALIAN RACING GROUP & CAMS

WHO ARE THEY? Australian Racing Ground (ARG) is the venture behind the new TCR Australia Championship and the similarly new S5000 Championship. CAMS, aside from being the governing body of the sport in Australia, own and promote both the CAMS PAYCE Formula 4 Championship and also the Shannons Nationals series.

WHAT WOULD THEY PROMOTE? A TCR-focused endurance race with a Shannons Nationals supporting program would be the obvious choice here.

S5000 would probably get the big no-no on Safety Grounds, though Formula 3 cars raced there very successfully and the track is safer now than it was five years ago – so who knows. Certainly, that would be amazing.

Regardless, with a TCR Enduro headlining a glut of categories like Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge, Prototype Series, Australian GT and even Super 3 would surely be keen to add to the program.

WHAT ARE THEIR CHANCES? Very High. Having the government-backed governing body on your side at a Government-supported facility can’t hurt, and the prospect of a TCR-based weekend would probably appeal to the Bathurst Council. They want to draw outside visitors into the region and having an international category (especially one growing in Asia and about to set up shop in New Zealand) would have significant appeal. Filling an under-card would be easy, with Shannons Nationals categories that would unquestionably jump at the chance to join the program.

ONTIC SPORTS PTY. LTD.

WHO ARE THEY? Ontic Sports is a company owned by Iain Sherrin, he of Production Car racing notoriety. Ontic promote the Australian Production Car Series as well as several of their own races for that series.

WHAT WOULD THEY PROMOTE? This is a tough one to read, unless they plan to go head-on with the Hi-Tec Oils Bathurst 6 Hour and start their own Bathurst enduro as part of the APC. However, that would be unlikely to succeed given that the Bathurst Council is a partner in the Easter Event with existing promoter, Yeehah Events, and won’t want to see that growing event diminished.

It’s hard to draw conclusions here without additional info on this one, but Ontic could absolutely promote something other than a Production Car event – so sky’s the limit here.

WHAT ARE THEIR CHANCES? Depends entirely on their pitch – whatever that may be.

SUPERCARS

WHO ARE THEY? If you don’t know this, go home – you’re drunk. Supercars promote the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 annually, and promote the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour in partnership with the BRC each year as well.

WHAT WOULD THEY PROMOTE? That’s the $1m question because it could be anything. Some will automatically default to another Supercars round, but in the current calendar crunch that is unlikely. More likely would be the rumored Goodwood-style event that has been doing the rounds in the local media lately.

If there is one thing notable about the four Bathurst events at the moment, it’s that they each compliment each other well – with limited crossover that could hurt each other. It must be assumed that the fifth event will continue along those lines by offering something unique – so that could work.

Part of the surprise of this list was the lack of a noted Historic event promoter, so having a retro or historic-themed event on the Mountain would seem to fit the bill. Certainly, it would draw enormous interest and hundreds of entries.

Of course, they could just as easily include a Supercars test, Super 2 or 3 round or otherwise as part of the fun.

WHAT ARE THEIR CHANCES? Extremely High. Priors with council, an open phone line to the New South Wales Government and significant resources and experience in event promotions all add to what would be a very strong candidate, surely.

24 HOURS OF LEMONS AUSTRALIA PTY LTD

WHO ARE THEY? The 24 Hours of Lemons is a series for cars that cost less than $1000 with no performance modifications – safety only. Generally Amateur only, their events often see teams with crazy themes, lots of fun and penalties for misdemeanors throughout the race. Hugely successful in the United States, where it was created, the Australian arm has been around for some time and has grown quickly.

WHAT WOULD THEY PROMOTE? We can only imagine that a 24 Hours of Lemons event at Mount Panorama would be exactly what it said on the tin: 24 Hours of Lemons racing at Mount Panorama.

WHAT ARE THEIR CHANCES? Surely, negligible. It’s impossible to not love the ‘Lemons’ concept, but at a track as challenging, fast and – let’s be frank – as dangerous as Bathurst? Not likely: the risk management people would be hard to convince. Some will argue that their should be an accessible event there, but that is why there’s a two-day regularity called Challenge Bathurst each November. Sadly for the Lemons people, we can’t see this getting off the ground.

CREVENTIC

WHO ARE THEY? The Dutch-based endurance promoter operates a global series of long distance races called the 24H Series. A series of long-distance races over varying distances for Touring, GT and Sports Cars, the 24H series has some Aussie relevance on account of MARC Cars Australia having a significant presence in it. Their key event is the season-opening Dubai 24 Hours.

WHAT WOULD THEY PROMOTE? There’s no secret that there are many with a desire to see a Bathurst 24 Hour return at some point, and this would be a turn-key way of doing it. Creventic have the competitors, the package, the freight contacts and the organisation to make it happen. They also understand the market – prior to the tie-up with SRO, the Bathurst 12 Hour was aligned with Creventic to engage competitors from overseas.

WHAT ARE THEIR CHANCES? You’d have to say they are solid. Again, there’s no mistaking the intent from Bathurst to add international events, nor the desire for a 24 Hour to return. Roadblocks may come in a concern that a 24H may be seen as clashing with the established Bathurst 12 Hour, though the success of that event seems to have it well entrenched. There’s also a resource question – 24 Hour races may be twice the length of a 12-Hour but would likely take considerably more than twice the resource to put on. Can the market sustain it? That’s the question – but Creventic will see themselves as a frontrunner, assuming they can find the right slot in which to do it.