The date of the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour could change in the future to help accommodate North American-based teams and Rolex 24 at Daytona competitors wanting to take part in the race according to event director Shane Rudzis.
This year’s Australian GT3 enduro returned to its traditional early February date, which comes one week after the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season opener, which Rudzis admitted has been challenging for teams looking to contest both events.
While more than a dozen drivers, several teams, including the Akkodis-ASP-operated SunEnergy1 Racing squad and engineers from Mercedes-AMG, BMW and other manufacturer personnel having flown directly from Florida earlier this week, multiple prospective U.S.-based teams, including The Heart of Racing and K-PAX Racing, opted out of entering Bathurst this year due to the logistics involved.
“With North America for example, Daytona affects us getting cars,” Rudzis told reporters in a media roundtable Friday at Mount Panorama. “I’d love to say that we can look at maybe moving this event on to a new date, one weeks or two weeks [later], just to keep a little bit of a gap.
“That’s just a ‘what-if.’ That’s not saying we’re doing it.”
When asked by Sportscar365 if the event’s date could change by as early as next year, Rudzis said he didn’t know.
“It’s just more of a consideration,” he said. “There’s many factors.
“We’ve got to work with SRO on their calendar. There’s still an effect of for us running a Supercars event, is there enough window? It takes a lot of people to put something together like this.
“If we get a one-week gap between Daytona, it’s not about the cars getting here but the teams being able to get here.
“How do we identify opportunities to attract more teams? The North American market is a big opportunity for us. We’ve had a lot of Pro-Am teams come over before from North America [in the past].
“We’ll see what we can do, especially with GM and Ford coming into [GT3]. There’s going to be a lot of those cars in North America. How can we get them to come over here and get on the track?
“That’s one of the things to drive attention.”
Rudzis, who was appointed by promoter Supercars as the new event director last July, said they’re also focused on attracting additional entries from other parts of the world as well.
He explained they brought in an immigration specialist for the first time this year that has “dramatically lessened the hurdles” international teams have previously faced with entering Australia.
“That’s helped, especially with Craft-Bamboo and the Asian teams,” he said. “It’s very hard to get into Australia [from Asia at the moment] so it was almost, ‘What do we do?’… If we can make it as easy [as possible] that’s what we need to do.
“There’s a lot of cars in Asia. How do we get them to come down? There’s a lot of car entries in New Zealand. I reckon there’s three or four that want to come next year and are keen to get over here.
“This year is a stepping stone. We’re not saying this year is fine where we are; that’s not it.
“This is a step from COVID and next year more cars will come. It’s where I think we’re going to be from an event.”
A total of 26 entries are taking part in this weekend’s race after Rudzis said they initially aimed for around 30.
“If you look at next year, the goal is to get above 30 entries,” he said. “We’ll work with SRO, Stephane Ratel and his team, manufacturers plus the local GT teams.
“For the future we can be very pumped up that it’s going to be a pretty bright 2024 event. [There’s] newly homologated cars coming out.
“For us it means we have the new Porsche coming, new Ferrari is ready to go [for next year].
“Obviously the Corvette and Mustang won’t be ready yet but there is engagement with those manufacturers at the moment.
“A lot of teams in pit lane are already asking about, ‘Who do I speak to about it?’
“There’s people and owners of these GT3 cars who want to get back into it. There’s a lot of owners of older GT cars that want to be back on track next year with some of the iconic GT3 cars that everyone wants to see here.”