Bathurst And AGP In New Double-Header Plan

Bathurst And AGP In New Double-Header Plan

The postponement of the Australian Grand Prix could lead to an all-new international double-header at the back end of this year.

Organisers of the Bathurst International are looking to time their event so it can be twinned with the AGP to create a major national and international drawcard.

If the plan works, a group of international drivers could race S5000 single-seaters at Albert Park and Mount Panorama on consecutive weekends.

The all-Aussie open-wheeler category is a proven drawcard after retired grand prix racers Rubens Barrichello and Giancarlo Fisichella signed-up for the aborted AGP last year, together with F1 test driver Jack Aitken.

“There is unfinished business at the Grand Prix for S5000. And they will race at the Bathurst International,” the CEO of the Australian Racing Group, Matt Braid, told Race News.

“There are plenty of international drivers who are interested in racing the cars.”

The official confirmation of the re-schedule AGP has triggered a new round of planning for ARG, which had hoped to get both S5000 and its Touring Car Masters categories onto the program for 2021.

It is now investigating the possibility of running as the undercard for the Supercars meeting that will take the date of the AGP in March, as well as the potential impact on its Bathurst headliner at the end of the year.

“The fact that the Grand Prix has been postponed means we have to assess things going forward. We had hoped it would be a round for two of our series. So we have to see how that fits in the calendar at the back of the year.

“And we’re talking to Supercars about their proposed event at Sandown. We’re looking at other options we might bring forward.”

ARG planned that 2021 would be a transition year for S5000, with a short season ahead of a shift to summer race dates, and it was also looking to the Bathurst International to make a major impact.

Moving the start of the summer S5000 season to the AGP could work for ARG, but Braid said it is too early for solid decision.

“It’s disappointing that the GP can’t run where it’s supposed to be. It’s such an iconic event that you would want to do it.

“We’ll now re-assess. It’s too early to call. But we’d still love to go to the Grand Prix.”

But he knows there is definite interest in racing S5000s at Albert Park.

“There is absolute interest to do it. The interesting dynamic of the Grand Prix is very appealing, and we’re trying to align things with it.

“We could have an international Grand Prix. Get the overseas guys out for the AGP and Bathurst.”

Braid said ARG is now also working on its plan for a two-driver Bathurst 500 for TCR hot hatches, which had quickly generated massive international interest last year before Covid-19 shut things down.

“It is internationalising Bathurst again. So there will be TCR cars as well as S5000.

“Navigating the date is hugely important. We are trying to navigate the local domestic requirements and the international events, so we create the right time and opportunity for overseas drivers and teams to come out to Australia.”