Supercars has confirmed that the 2021 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour will not go ahead next year due to international travel restrictions caused by COVID-19.
The race, initially scheduled for Feb. 5-7, had served as the opening round of SRO Motorsport Group’s Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli since its launch in 2016.
The 2020 Bathurst event featured a record breaking 40-car field including 34 GT3 entries and 11 different manufacturers, an event-high since GT3 regulations were adopted a decade ago.
Supercars CEO Sean Seamer said the event has been canceled for 2021 due to the continued travel restrictions surrounding a number of countries, and namely within Australia, which has enforced some of the most strict regulations for border control amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“This is a tough decision but ultimately one we had to make,” Seamer said.
“Since Supercars began managing the event it has grown to become one of the largest endurance events globally, showcasing our spiritual home of racing to an international audience.
“With Australia’s international borders expected to remain closed, we feel it is in the best interest of competitors, fans, sponsors and broadcasters to make the decision now on next year’s event.
“We are absolutely committed to having the event return to Australia’s motorsport calendar in 2022.”
Stephane Ratel, SRO Motorsports Group founder and CEO added: “The Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour is one of the world’s great endurance races and an undoubted highlight of SRO Motorsports Group’s global calendar.
“But we also understand and respect Australia’s international travel restrictions, which make it impossible to stage Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli’s opening round there in February.
“Instead, 2021’s championship will now begin later in the year at the Total 24 Hours of Spa.
“Mount Panorama remains Intercontinental’s spiritual season opener, and I know I speak for everyone at SRO as well as our manufacturers when I say we cannot wait to return in 2022.”
Ratel told Sportscar365 earlier this month that there were “lots of uncertainties” surrounding the event for February and appeared open to the possibility of closing the 2021 season at Mt. Panorama, in what could see IGTC transform into a championship contested over two calendar years.