Australia's annual Bathurst 24-Hour race is on the way to becoming a major international motorsport attraction, judging by highly positive feedback since the second event was run just over a fortnight ago. Response to the 22-23 November race,...
Australia's annual Bathurst 24-Hour race is on the way to becoming a major international motorsport attraction, judging by highly positive feedback since the second event was run just over a fortnight ago.
Response to the 22-23 November race, which brought touring car legend Peter Brock his 10 th Bathurst endurance victory alongside three fellow Holden Monaro drivers, has included unprecedented television ratings, spectator attendance and media coverage for organiser PROCAR Australia.
Visiting overseas competitors and media rated the event highly for friendliness, spectacle and the unique appeal of the Mount Panorama circuit.
PROCAR is expecting further growth when the third race is staged on 19-21 November next year -- plus a valuable spin-off boost for its championship series.
Last month's race saw a total of 41,234 people turn up over three days to watch 46 cars tackle one of the biggest challenges in motor racing -- a round-the-clock enduro on the world-famous 6.3 kilometre circuit.
The attendance figure was 20,000 greater than last year and the number of starters up by almost 25 percent.
The field included eight international teams and almost 40 drivers from a dozen countries, who drew strong interest from supporters and media organisations at home.
Fifteen overseas journalists and photographers were among 190 media representatives accredited for the event.
More than 50 other print, broadcast and electronic publishers in countries as far apart as Denmark, Indonesia and Brazil covered the race through a comprehensive official internet service, which supplied live results, streamed video and commentary, update reports and still photography.
Despite the Rugby World Cup final on the same weekend in Sydney, the seven hours of live national Seven Network coverage was a major success for the broadcaster and PROCAR Australia.
The telecast reached more than 900,000 viewers in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth, and others through Seven's regional affiliate stations. It comfortably won its timeslots over the other commercial networks, peaking with a 49.1 percent total audience share before the race finish on Sunday.
The Bathurst 24-Hour audience was the biggest in every age and demographic segment measured.
In addition, news highlights were distributed by the Reuters Television agency, representing 444 stations in 98 countries. Rights to show a one-hour highlights program were taken by Speed Channel (US), Sky Sports (Malaysia), Wige Communications (Europe), Motors TV (UK), Channel 5 (UK) and TVNZ and Britain's Sky cable network is showing a three-hour version.
In only its second year, the Bathurst 24-Hour attracted a high-powered list of international drivers, including ex-Formula 1 aces David Brabham, Alex Yoong and Andrea Montermini, British GT champion Tommy Erdos, of Brazil and expatriate sportscar expert Neil Cunningham.
First-time visitor Montermini is making plans already to return in 2004.
"I had seen the circuit on television before, but I had no idea it would be this good," he said.
"This is certainly one of the most beautiful circuits I have ever been to and I can't wait to come back. I can't wait to tell everybody back home in Italy about this place."
Cunningham's Morgan Works teammate, 19-year-old Briton Adam Sharpe, described his first Bathurst experience as fabulous.
"It's a very challenging but great fun circuit that is quite unique. We have already put in our entry for next year. We were welcomed here right from the start. The atmosphere here is like a four-day party," Sharpe said.
And while the Morgan team is already planning the next Bathurst, it also is investigating the possibility of contesting the 2004 Nations Cup championship, encouraged by the huge amount of media coverage its car received.
Teams returning in 2004 will find the Mount Panorama pit and paddock area completely rebuilt as part of a $25 million development program scheduled by the Bathurst City Council.
New pit bays will allow up to 80 cars to contest the race.
A 130-room, five-star hotel is due to be built beside the track at the end of Conrod Straight.