HOW OFTEN HAS A CIRCUIT HOSTED TWO ATCC/SUPERCARS ROUNDS?

The field lines up for the Queensland Raceway sprint round in 2000. Pic: an1images.com / Andrew Hall

A CIRCUIT holding multiple rounds of the Repco Supercars Championship in a single season has become somewhat commonplace during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last year’s calendar reshuffles meant Sydney Motorsport Park, Hidden Valley, Townsville and The Bend hosted two rounds each as Supercars navigated the various state border restrictions.

This weekend marks the second leg of a hastily arranged Townsville double-header, while Bathurst will feature twice this year and a return to The Bend has recently been mooted.

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It begs the question, how many Australian Touring Car Championship/Supercars Championship seasons featured two rounds at the same venue prior to COVID-19?

The short answer is just eight out of the 60 seasons from 1960-2019, making it a relative rarity.

Allan Moffat takes victory in the Sandown sprint round in 1977. Pic: an1images.com / Ian Smith

Of course, in its first eight years the ATCC was run as a single-round championship, so the chances of a repeat venue were zero!

The incorporation of endurance events into the ATCC in 1976 and ’77 provided the first double-ups; Sandown and Adelaide International Raceway hosted both a sprint and an enduro during those two seasons.

As the enduros were taken back out of the ATCC in 1978, the next time a circuit hosted two rounds didn’t occur until 1991, when Lakeside featured twice on the calendar.

Tony Longhurst won the second Lakeside round in 1991. Pic: an1images.com. / Graeme Neander

The return of the enduros to the championship for 1999 gave the then new Queensland Raceway two rounds in 1999 and 2000, as it held a sprint round and a 500km race on each occasion.

Eastern Creek hosted two rounds in both 2003 and ’04 as V8 Supercars added its self-promoted ‘Main Event’ season-finale to the Sydney venue’s regular fixture.

Between then and 2020, only 2009 featured two rounds at the same venue, when Phillip Island added a sprint event in November to its 500km September enduro after a scheduled visit to Bahrain was cancelled.

Sydney Motorsport Park in 2020 was the first time a single circuit hosted consecutive rounds in a season, while the following Hidden Valley double was the first run on back-to-back weekends.

Craig Lowndes celebrates the Queensland double in 2000. Pic: an1images.com / Graeme Neander

For the record, from the total of 14 times a circuit has hosted two events in a year, only three times has the same driver scored round honours at both.

Craig Lowndes took out the Queensland Raceway sprint round in 2000 and won the Queensland 500 alongside Mark Skaife, Marcos Ambrose won both Eastern Creek rounds in 2003, and Scott McLaughlin was the top points scorer in both SMP rounds in 2020.

This weekend’s round in Townsville is meanwhile the first time in its 22-year history that the Dunlop Super2 Series will repeat a venue in one calendar year.

Super2 is also scheduled to visit Bathurst twice this season, with the already completed round at the Mount Panorama 500 in February joined by the traditional visit in October.

ATCC/Supercars seasons to feature repeat venues

1976 – Sandown, Adelaide International Raceway
1977 – Sandown, Adelaide International Raceway
1991 – Lakeside
1999 – Queensland Raceway
2000 – Queensland Raceway
2003 – Eastern Creek
2004 – Eastern Creek
2009 – Phillip Island
2020 – Sydney Motorsport Park, Hidden Valley, Townsville, The Bend