Leading GT3 manufacturers have voiced their support of a date change for the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour that would avoid a clash with the joint IMSA-WEC ‘Super Sebring’ event next March.
Announced earlier this month, the Australian enduro is slated to kick off the 2022 Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli season on March 17-20, the same weekend as the traditional Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring and 1000-mile WEC race at the Florida circuit.
Senior motorsports executives from Audi, Mercedes-AMG and Lamborghini are all in favor of a change to allow its drivers, engineers and support personnel to contest both events.
It comes after SRO Motorsports Group has sought feedback from manufacturers on how their participation would be affected if the race was to be held that weekend, away from its traditional early February date.
This year’s event was canceled due to COVID-19-related border closures for international travelers.
“We’re super excited that Bathurst is back on,” Head of Audi Sport customer racing Chris Reinke told Sportscar365.
“For us, in a way, it’s always a very intense time in January because we have Dubai, Daytona, Bathurst. Now it goes onto the March date of Sebring.
“We are always keen to avoid clashes and I would support every effort to move it, even so this time around it might not affect us too greatly. But it could be the next time around that we need support from someone else because we’re affected.
“If possible and especially in the first quarter of the year we should be able to avoid it.
“I know in the [busy] season in Europe there’s obviously weekends where three series have to happen. And that’s when we have to accept it.
“But I would think in the month of March it should be solvable.”
Sportscar365 understands event promoter Supercars placed the race in mid-March to strengthen the chances of having international entries amid Australia’s expected easing of border restrictions.
International travel is set to resume next month for Australian citizens, with the borders being opened to overseas travelers sometime early next year.
“I hope they will find a solution,” said Head of Lamborghini Motorsport Giorgio Sanna.
“Clearly we are working to be in both series but it’s clear Sebring is a priority and we hope there will be a way to find an alternative for Bathurst.
“Of course the Intercontinental GT Challenge is a serious strategy for us. But I think there could be a way to find an alternative. It doesn’t make sense for everybody to have a clash like this.”
Head of Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing Stefan Wendl, meanwhile, has proposed moving the race up by two weeks to the weekend of March 4-6, which currently is not occupied by any major sports car racing event.
“I’ve mentioned it to Stephane [Ratel] that it would be nice to switch the date maybe two weeks forward,” he told Sportscar365.
‘There’s a huge gap between the end of the Asian Le Mans [season] to Sebring and starting the European races with NLS. Those races are in the middle of March.
“To [have Bathurst] in the beginning of March or only one week earlier, it would be a big help to have more availability for our teams to use drivers in Sebring and to make no clashes.
“Clashes are always something in this environment… which should be avoided.
“There’s no blame on IMSA or SRO. At the end we are happy the event is there but it would be really nice if the national authorities are able to move the Bathurst event forward.”
Reinke: Motorsport Community Needs to Take “One World” Approach
Audi’s Reinke, meanwhile, is hopeful that organizers in general can be more mindful of clashing events in the global motorsports calendar.
“Sometimes it also needs to gel between cultures and explain and moderate,” he added. “I think Stephane [Ratel] is the right person to do that.
“If you’re on the other side of the world, to respect iconic events, in the end it would help all of us.
“I learned almost two years ago in Daytona that was Chinese New Year.
“To be honest I didn’t have it on my mind but obviously we had a Chinese team running there and it was the first time in their lives that they hadn’t been home. How much of a sacrifice would that be?
“It’s like putting a race on Christmas. We wouldn’t do that. Sometimes you need people to liaise between cultures, to raise awareness. Sometimes that’s all you need.
“We should all use a ‘one world’ approach.”