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

Inaugural Bathurst International postponed
Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

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.