News 17 Feb 2016

Wakefield Park and Winton removed from 2016 FX-ASC calendar

Reshuffled Australasian Superbike calendar breaks cover.

Image: Russell Colvin.

Image: Russell Colvin.

Australian Road & Track Rider Promotions (ARTRP) has revealed Wakefield Park and Winton have been dropped from the 2016 Swann Insurance Australasian Superbike Championship (FX-ASC) series as part of a revised calendar.

With Wakefield Park and Winton officially removed, the FX-ASC series will now visit Sydney Motorsport Park three times, Queensland Raceway twice and Mallala once (see the complete calendar below).

The news comes just weeks after Motorcycling Australia (MA) recently announced a partnership with the Australian Auto-Sport Alliance (AASA). Benalla Auto Club (BAC) owns the AASA, as well as the Wakefield Park Raceway and Winton Motor Raceway circuits, which will collectively return to MA’s Australian Superbike Championship (ASBK) schedule this year.

That MA/AASA announcement indicated that the FX-ASC series would no longer be sanctioned under the AASA in 2016 and it soon became clear that ARTRP’s series would instead primarily operate under Recreation and Competitive Events Resources and Services (RACERS) permits, founded by Queensland Raceways.

Since then the FX-ASC supplementary regulations confirmed RACERS sanctioning for Sydney Motorsport Park’s opening round on 11-12 March, however all remaining rounds were TBA due to the Wakefield Park/Winton permitting delay.

It’s understood BAC rejected the RACERS insurance for the FX-ASC’s scheduled Wakefield Park and Winton rounds, essentially leaving MA as the FX-ASC’s only licencing option at those circuits if common grounds could be reached. Instead, ARTRP has reshuffled its series to include additional rounds at Sydney Motorsport Park and Queensland Raceway alongside Mallala.

The option to run FX-ASC events under MA sanctioning would have required a major overhaul of the series according to sources, including operating all categories under MA’s general competition rules in the Manual of Motorcycle Sport – at least at those venues. It was never directly discussed between ARTRP or MA.

“Unfortunately these changes have had to come about because of circumstances beyond our control,” a statement from ARTRP’s Terry O’Neill said. “As the organisers and promoters of the high profile nationally-televised Swann Superbike Series we pride ourselves on delivering over many years the one stable dependable national series in this country that all of our competitors and teams can rely on.

“We have only very recently been informed that the Benalla Auto Car Club has had a change of direction on RACERS permits at Wakefield Park and Winton. As RACERS is our preferred permit and insurance provider, this has given us no choice other than to move these two events to other venues which has taken some arranging at this late stage.

“Looking at the new calendar we believe it is a big improvement in that the extremely popular Sydney Motorsport Park is now to host three rounds and the great for TV coverage Queensland Raceway has two rounds. Another plus is the calendar now on average has over seven plus weeks between rounds making it even easier for privateers to compete in and the changes to the calendar come at the end of the year giving everyone a long lead time to plan ahead.

“The replacement SMP round will be on the same weekend as the previously scheduled Winton round. The new QLD Raceways round is now on the 28th–30th October, which is exactly seven weeks after round four and seven weeks prior to the series finale. We will expand our bike and gear transport package from Sydney to include this round as well.

“I can confirm that all six of our rounds of the championship series will be run under RACERS permits, licencing and insurance system. RACERS National Competition Licences can also be purchased for $210 per year through either Queensland Raceway or by contacting us.

“MA competition licences are also accepted by RACERS, so all competitors have a choice of which sanctioning body they wish to get a licence from and use. By the way, the RACERS personal accident policy has greater benefits for competitors than the MA policy has at their events, again MA licenced riders at our events get the same RACERS Insurance cover and benefits that RACERS licence holders receive.”

O’Neill also announced that plans are already in motion for the 2017 Australasian Superbike Championship, which could see the series expand to host a round at the historic Lakeside Raceway, which is owned and operated by Queensland Raceways.

“Looking forward to 2017 our plan is to run two rounds in Queensland, one at QLD Raceway and a planned round at Lakeside Park once scheduled improvements are finalised,” he continued. “We had hoped to have the second replacement round at Lakeside this year, but it was going to be too tight for the track owners to have the planned improvements done in time.”

With Sydney’s events all scheduled to be run on a two-day format in 2016, it’s intended that next year’s series will revert to three days at the majority of rounds: “In other news we are looking at heading back to three day events at all but the series finale in 2017.”

The 2016 Australasian Superbike Championship will feature an expansive television package once again, aired both through SBS Speedweek and Fox Sports. Live streaming will also be present, with the option of live television at the final round also being assessed.

“Again I can confirm that every round of the six-round championship series will receive both national free to air TV and pay TV coverage, being 3 x one-hour shows on both SBS Speedweek and 3 x one-hour shows on Fox Sports,” O’Neill commented.

“Each of the six rounds of the ASC will once again have free production quality live streaming coverage of all of the days racing and post-race interviews. We are once again looking at having live TV coverage of the series finale like we did in 2015, which was very popular and helped once again to raise the profile of the sport in this country.

“So while we have faced some issues beyond our control these have taken some time to sort out they have not stopped us from being able to once again provide the highest profile and watched motorcycle road race series in the country.”

Updated 2016 Australasian Superbike Championship calendar:
Rd1 – 11-12 March – Sydney Motorsport Park, NSW (FRI-SAT day/night)
Rd2 – 27-29 May – Mallala Motorsport Park, SA
Rd3 – 8-10 July – Queensland Raceway, QLD
Rd4 – 9-10 September – Sydney Motorsport Park, NSW
Rd5 – 28-30 October – Queensland Raceway, QLD
Rd6 – 16-17 December – Sydney Motorsport Park, NSW (FRI-SAT day/night)