Exorbitant costs and operational challenges result in a no-show for next year.
Sydney Motorsport Park’s (SMSP) absence from the 2020 Australian Superbike Championship (ASBK) calendar comes down to commercial realities surrounding the event, according to Motorcycling Australia (MA).
SMSP will be the destination of this year’s championship finals this weekend, however, it was confirmed this week that the Western Sydney-based circuit would once again be dropped from the schedule next season.
It’s a bitter blow to ASBK competitors and Sydney-based Superbike fans, many of whom have expressed their disappointment on social media since the calendar announcement, and the lone New South Wales-based round will be held at Goulburn’s Wakefield Park Raceway.
Sydney has been on-again, off-again the ASBK championship calendar under MA’s current management structure that was initially established mid-2014 following the troublesome era led by International Entertainment Group (IEG). SMSP has been an inclusion on the 2016, 2017 and 2019 schedules, but was absent in 2015 and 2018. It’s been cut again for 2020.
It’s understood that while MA’s ASBK management team continues to evolve its cooperative arrangements with a range of circuits and associated event promoters in a bid to make the series as cost-effective as possible, SMSP has proven a more difficult task. There is also a share of operational challenges that include limitations in utilising the series’ customary Racesafe medical services.
This weekend’s finale, which sees the premier class go down to the wire in a thrilling way to cap-off the season, is anticipated to run at a loss for series organisers regardless – the Sydney venue renowned to be more difficult in attracting spectators when compared with alternate circuits that the ASBK visits more regularly.
“From ASBK management’s point of view, the opportunity to attend Sydney Motorsport Park in 2020 wasn’t possible due to a number of factors,” ASBK operations manager Simon Maas explained to CycleOnline.com.au.
“It’s mainly the cost of hiring the venue and the operational costs associated with the round, but we are enthusiastic to return there in 2021 and hope to be able to build a stronger relationship with Sydney Motorsport Park.”
Representatives from SMSP declined to make comment on the matter when contacted by CycleOnline.com.au this week.
Yamaha Racing Team factory rider Cru Halliday, who is from South West Sydney in Camden, will have an increased supporter-base on location this weekend as he vies for the 2019 crown. SMSP will be his best chance yet of chalking up a victory for this season, so to see it dropped next year comes as ‘a bit of a joke’ in his opinion.
“When I saw the calendar, straight away I saw Sydney wasn’t on it and it’s a bit of a joke, to be honest,” Halliday commented. “It’s one of the best tracks that we’ve got in Australia – even GPs used to race at Eastern Creek – and for whatever reason, they’re not going there. I think they need to get past whatever politics are going on there.
“We’re going to tracks like Morgan Park where, we saw this year with Glenn Scott, that if you tuck the front at turn three you’re into the wall. You’re not going to have that at Sydney and the entry list numbers speak for themselves. It’s disappointing, but what do you do?”
Instead, the 2020 ASBK calendar will maintain a full seven-round calendar for the Superbike category, including a two-plus-four event alongside the Supercars at Barbagallo Raceway in Western Australia. The remaining championship classes including Supersport and Supersport 300 are to be reduced to six rounds in total from next season.