Bathurst deadline for 2018 calendar

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 20/07/2017
  • By Stefan Bartholomaeus

Several moving pieces mean the 2018 Virgin Australia Supercars Championship calendar puzzle will not be completed until the week of the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000.

Supercars CEO James Warburton has confirmed the new deadline for finalising the calendar which was originally slated to be released in early September.

Warburton says the extension will give discussions with Asian promoters every chance to succeed, but admits there are no guarantees that an event in the region will go ahead.

The category holds Memorandums of Understanding with several Asian promoters, including one in Thailand, that could yet bear fruit.

A closer relationship with Formula 1 Management has also opened the door to a future appearance at the Singapore Grand Prix, although that is thought unlikely for 2018.

The elevation of the Australian Grand Prix event to championship status is currently the biggest confirmed change for the 2018 Supercars calendar.

It increases the number of points-paying events from 14 to 15, with Warburton confirming that a 16th could yet be added pending several ongoing discussions.

“There are still eight or nine different options for how the calendar will look at this point,” Warburton told Supercars.com.

“There are a number of parties that we’re still in discussions with both here and in Asia, which we’re not shying away from in terms of opportunities.

“With the number of moving pieces that we have, it makes sense to put the calendar out in the week of Bathurst, which is what we did last year.

“Sandown has traditionally been the time we’ve done it, but there’s no real need to rush it out that early.”

Construction at The Bend Motorsport Park Construction at The Bend Motorsport Park

Tailem Bend is expected to be on the calendar following the recent allocation of South Australian Government funding for the event.

Slated for August, the addition of Tailem Bend will see the state host two ATCC/Supercars points paying events in a single season for the first time since 1977.

Elsewhere, a new deal with Queensland Raceway was recently announced, while discussions for funding to keep Pukekohe and Winton on the calendar continue.

“From a Queensland Raceway point of view we’re really encouraged by the council and TEQ's (Tourism and Events Queensland’s) continued push to improve that facility, which is ongoing,” said Warburton.

“It’s great that Winton had its best ever round this year (financially) but we’re keen for them (circuit owners and event promoter the Benalla Auto Club) to secure funding and improve the facility.

“We’re in our final discussions which have been very positive about our renewal in New Zealand, which is a great market for us especially with their drivers doing so well. That’s something we need to conclude in the coming months.

“There’s still a fair bit to play out, but we’re certainly happy with how it’s all shaping up.”

Discussions also continue over a special ‘Big Bash’ format for the Sydney Motorsport Park event, for which the feasibility of temporarily flood lighting is currently being assessed.

Regardless of the final format, Warburton has confirmed that the event will continue to be a points-paying round.

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