Supercars coy on restoring endurance series

It remains unclear whether Supercars will look to restore a multi-race endurance cup in the future.

Supercars coy on restoring endurance series

The series is in its second year of a single two-driver endurance race, the Bathurst 1000, a measure first taken in response to the global health crisis in 2020.

Scaling back the long-distance races followed a seven-year stint of a formal Enduro Cup, held across the Sandown 500, Bathurst 1000 and Gold Coast 600 events.

Even before the Enduro Cup was established there was traditionally at least two long-distance races, Sandown the most prolific host of a Bathurst warm-up with a history dating back to the 1970s.

While cutting back to a sole endurance race was initially considered a response to the pandemic and a way to cut costs, there are no guarantees that the Enduro Cup will return.

As it stands there is no clear direction on the future of the long-distance races, Supercars COO Shane Howard explaining that the door's not closed on more events, but also cool short-term re-expansion plans.

"Look, I think it's one step at a time," Howard said. "We'll put forward opportunities and ideas as always. and they'll be considered accordingly through the [Supercars] Commission and the [Supercars] board.

"It just depends on what's happening at the time. I don't say that's frozen [at one enduro], that's for sure. Any opportunity like that would be considered on its merits."

There are pluses and minuses for the re-establishment of an Enduro Cup.

The biggest winner of a multi-round series is professional-level drivers without a full-time Supercars seat, the Enduro Cup creating an additional level of employment. Established co-drivers have typically been able to earn up to six figures for the three races, their deal usually tied in with ride and test day duties.

Those races have also traditionally provided a springboard for rookie drivers looking to break into Supercars. The shift to a single race, at the a circuit as treacherous as Mount Panorama, makes hiring young, inexperienced drivers more of a gamble.

On the flip side the long-distance races are expensive for teams due to co-driver wages and increased operating costs.

There is also the question of where to hold future endurance events.

Sandown was set to be replaced by The Bend as the 500-kilometre Bathurst lead-up in 2020 before the schedule was heavily revised due to the pandemic.

As for the Gold Coast, should the move to the season finale slot become permanent that would rule out a two-driver race.

Meanwhile, two-day schedules for SuperSprint rounds look to be here to stay.

According to Howard the more compact timetable has been well received by teams, while promising TV numbers early in the season suggest its been a hit with the audience as well.

"I think the two-day events are working well," he said.

"It certainly helps the teams, the teams can come in a bit later. In a condensed two-day programme, there's actually more Supercars action in a two-day programme than spreading it over three. So I think it works well for the fans as well.

"I think it's working well. Our [TV] ratings are great. The proof is in the pudding that the TV is really working well."

One tweak in the works for the upcoming events at The Bend and Winton is to run support categories on the Friday.

"I believe that's what will one happening at The Bend and I know Winton will be looking at that," said Howard. "That's great because you can get your practice sessions out the way and then you're in to qualifying and racing.

"There's lots of benefits to the two days of racing."

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