Supercars drivers call for Sandown 500 return

A number of lead Supercars drivers have called on the series to bring back the Sandown 500.

Supercars drivers call for Sandown 500 return
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The Australian series has traditionally held a 500-kilometre, two-driver endurance race in the lead-up to its centrepiece event, the Bathurst 1000.

In recent years the 500-kay event has been combined with the Bathurst 1000 and the Gold Coast 600 to form a series-within-a-series known as the Enduro Cup.

Sandown is seen as the traditional home of the 500, although it has also been held at circuits such as Queensland Raceway and Phillip Island.

It was also set to move to The Bend in 2020 before the calendar was rocked by the global health crisis.

Since the pandemic Supercars has scaled its endurance season back to just a single race, the Bathurst 1000.

While there has been talk of more endurance events, its thought teams have been unwilling to re-expand due to costs.

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There has been speculation the Sandown 500 will return at least once before the circuit is redeveloped, although exactly when they will be is unclear.

According to a number of key drivers it should be as soon as possible.

The calls for the return of the Sandown 500 were particularly loud during the Sandown SuperSprint over the weekend, where the majority of co-drivers were on the ground anyway for a dedicated practice session.

"I think we need a second enduro, that's just absolute tradition," said Will Davison.

"It seems just crazy. I understand through COVID what we did to get through, but I think the time is now to get that 500 back.

"And if there is uncertainty over the future of the circuit, we should send Sandown out with a big bang if that's the way it's going.

"We're all here, we do 500-kilometre weekends anyway on the street events. I think there's definitely room for that 500 enduro in one day, just to spice up."

David Reynolds agreed: ."I don't really understand why they did a co-driver session. I mean it's cool, but it's added cost for no reason.

"The 500 would make more sense. Everyone loved it, it was one of our favourite events. And the more enduro-style racing we do, the better the category feels."

Chaz Mostert went a step further, calling for the reinstatement of the three-event Enduro Cup.

"It's kind of like we've forgotten how a normal calendar would go," he said.

"We used to have the Enduro Cup and it was another thing to play for, which we just don't have now. When you come to enduro time you're either in the championship or you're out of it, and if you're out of it you put all this focus in being strong at these three big races at the end of the year.

"It's quite rewarding if you do bag one of them."

Triple Eight's racer-turned-boss Jamie Whincup said even from a team management perspective he would support the return of the 500.

"We had to wind back the category, we cut out a lot of street tracks and also the three enduros back to one, for the COVID period," he said.

"But we're coming out of that period very strong; Adelaide on the calendar, Gold Coast back, Newcastle next year... it's exciting stuff. And if someone asked me the question, should we do the 500 here, I would say absolutely.

Whincup said the incoming Gen3 cars, which are meant to be cheaper to run, would help alleviate the cost of more long distance racing.

"The big cost for the teams, apart from travel and people, is the wear and tear on the cars," he added.

"You don't want to own one of these cars as a road car. You do 5000 kays and you have to replace everything. They are that expensive to run.

"So a long 500-kay race, yeah, you've got a lot of worn out, torn-up bits.

"But we want to go racing, we don't care what it costs to race. Gen3 is a massive step in that direction where we can tear panels off the car and run them hard for longer and not be blowing the bank."

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