Craig Lowndes, Rick Kelly and Shane van Gisbergen should be at Bathurst this weekend.
The V8 Supercar stars were red-hot to run against the world’s best GT teams and drivers in the Bathurst 12 Hour and they are not alone.
The newest long-distance classic on the global motorsport calendar is filled to capacity and the cars are as tasty as it gets, including Bentley, McLaren, Ferrari and Porsche.
The date clash is deliberate
But politics has overruled common sense and, instead of heading the line-up for a race on Sunday that promises to be an absolute cracker, the V8 drivers have been forced to drive in a pre-season test at Sydney Motorsport Park
The date clash is deliberate and has as much to do with television as racing.
The 12 Hour is on Channel 7 and the V8 Supercar test is on Foxtel.
No-one from V8 Supercars wanted their marquee drivers to be strutting their stuff on a rival network, particularly at the start of a new season with a fresh television deal about to fire up in the new partnership between Foxtel and Network Ten. And with Foxtel trying to sign motorsport enthusiasts to their new cut-price monthly sports package.
The original clash between the two events was a one-day overlap and it would have been simple for drivers to cover commitments at both. They could have qualified at Bathurst on Friday, tested at Eastern Creek on Saturday, then raced at Mount Panorama on Sunday.
It’s a ridiculous situation
Even when V8 Supercars stretched their event to both days it would have been possible, using a helicopter, to race the first and last stints at the 12 hour. Lowndes and Kelly were both keen to do it that way. But V8 Supercars stipulated that all drivers had to be at their event, all weekend. Game over.
It’s a ridiculous situation and the losers are the drivers and — far more importantly — the fans.