Inaugural Bathurst International car race postponed until 2021 because of COVID-19

Inaugural Bathurst International postponed
Robert Cianflone/Getty Images
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BATHURST, Australia — With the inaugural Bathurst International postponed, ex-Formula One driver Rubens Barrichello will have to wait until next year to race on one of Australia’s most iconic layouts.

Officials said Wednesday the new event at Mount Panorama has been postponed until 2021 because of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic restrictions.

Barrichello, who won 11 Formula 1 Grand Prix races in an F1-record 322 starts – a mark equaled by Kimi Raikkonen last month in Russia – would have had to enter a 14-day quarantine in Australia before the Nov. 12-15 series of races because of current restrictions for incoming international travelers.

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The 48-year-old Brazilian driver was scheduled to drive in the S5000 open-wheel race. The S5000s are Australia’s fastest racing cars and could have broken the lap record on the 6.2-kilometer (3.8-mile) layout which includes famous hills and sharp turns and is part of residential traffic when races are not being held.

The track, first used for racing in the late 1930s, also hosts Australia’s biggest domestic race each year, the Bathurst 1000, which is scheduled to be held Oct. 18. Bathurst is in central western New South Wales state about 200 kilometers (120 miles) from Sydney.

The Australian Racing Group and Bathurst Regional Council say the event could have gone ahead only if border restrictions were lifted and mandatory quarantine periods scrapped.

ARG chief executive Matt Braid said it was an “impossible situation . . . it is obviously very disappointing to postpone the inaugural running of the Bathurst International.”

Race officials had also hoped to attract ex-Formula One drivers Jenson Button, Nico Rosberg and Fernando Alonso, although none of those drivers had been confirmed.

A date for next year’s race has not been determined.

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

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With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10-3 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 7 p.m. to USA Network. Peacock will have flag-to-flag coverage.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III