The Fate of The Bend: Key to the 2024 Supercars Calendar
Whether or not The Bend will feature on the 2024 Supercars calendar has become a subject of great anticipation. This decision will determine the scheduling of a complicated pre-enduro period. Although most aspects of next year’s season have been disclosed or can be reasonably deduced, there is still significant speculation surrounding the time between the NTI Townsville 500 and the Sandown 500 races.
The main uncertainties revolve around the dates for Sydney Motorsport Park, Symmons Plains, and, to a lesser extent, Sandown. Furthermore, the inclusion or exclusion of The Bend in the calendar adds another layer of complexity. These events are slated to take place between Sunday, July 7 and Thursday, October 10. These dates mark the conclusion of the NTI Townsville 500 weekend and the commencement of practice for the Repco Bathurst 1000, respectively.
In a normal scenario, there would be 13 weekends available to accommodate these three to four events. However, the 2024 calendar presents unique challenges due to the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, scheduled to run from July 26 to August 11. As previously reported by Speedcafe, Supercars has designated this period as a blackout due to personnel commitments in Paris. The television unit, in particular, will be unavailable during this time.
Consequently, there are three possible calendar scenarios, depending on whether Sydney is held before or after the Olympic Games and whether or not The Bend is included. The probable dates for Sydney are July 21 or August 18. If the former is chosen, it would provide an opportunity for The Bend to be held on August 18. Historically, mid-August has been the most common time for The Bend to host the championship, although it has not enjoyed consistent placement on the Supercars calendar since its inauguration in 2018.
If The Bend is part of the season, it is likely that Symmons Plains would be scheduled for Sunday, September 1. Multiple sources have suggested a late-August date for the Tasmania SuperSprint, which aligns with holding the event on August 31-September 1. In this scenario, the Sandown 500 would probably be held on Sunday, September 22, providing a three-week gap leading up to the Great Race on October 13. This matches the turnaround time between this year’s enduros and allows teams ample preparation time.
However, if The Bend is not included in the calendar, precise dates become more challenging to predict. Should Sydney remain on July 21, then running Symmons Plains on August 18 and Sandown on September 15 would distribute the races as evenly as possible. If Sydney ultimately occupies the August 18 slot, then Symmons Plains would likely take place on September 1, followed by Sandown on September 22.
Fortunately, most other elements of the 2024 Supercars calendar are already known. Pre-season testing is confirmed for February 5 and February 7 at Queensland Raceway and Winton, respectively. The Bathurst SuperFest, a notable event, will occur on February 23-25, immediately following the Bathurst 12 Hour. The championship will head to Albert Park for its anticipated role as a support category for the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix on March 21-24.
Notably, Taupo is locked in for April 19-21, indicating that the Wanneroo event will likely be held on May 19, given that Hidden Valley is scheduled for the weekend of Sunday, June 16. Once the field concludes the Townsville race, the subsequent destinations will be Sydney, potentially The Bend, Symmons Plains, and Sandown. The highly anticipated Bathurst 1000 is set to run from October 10-13, and the Gold Coast 500 is confirmed for October 25-27.
The Adelaide 500, a contracted season finale, is projected to take place on the weekend of Sunday, November 24, matching this year’s Vailo Adelaide 500 dates. This thrilling event is the only one remaining in the 2023 Supercars season, occurring on November 23-26.
In summary, the fate of The Bend holds immense importance in shaping the 2024 Supercars calendar. Depending on its inclusion and the ordering of events, the championship will unfold within a specific timeline. Despite the uncertainties surrounding the Olympic blackout period, Supercars officials are diligently working towards finalizing the calendar scenarios. Fans worldwide eagerly anticipate the announcement, which will set the stage for an action-packed and thrilling season of Supercars racing.