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Monday, June 24, 2024

The pointless calendar congestion that is impacting nationwide racing

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Unsustainable, pointless and unhelpful. They could sound like sturdy phrases, however – to this author, not less than – they completely describe the three-week spell of the nationwide calendar we’re at present in the course of. And particularly this previous weekend of membership motorsport.

Let me clarify. Over 18-19 Might, there have been 10 separate automobile racing occasions throughout the UK. From Thruxton to Bishopscourt and Snetterton to Oulton Park, virtually each one in every of our race tracks was enjoying host to a automobile fixture. On the floor, that sounds nice. In any case, absolutely it’s proof that these venues are doing what they had been constructed for.

Nonetheless, such a menagerie of conferences places pressure on a restricted variety of officers, marshals and different very important volunteers – and to not point out divides a finite pool of opponents. If every of these 10 occasions (and we aren’t even speaking concerning the scores of different grassroots contests held) was overflowing with entries and inundated with volunteers, then glad days. However that merely just isn’t the fact.

We’ve already mentioned the wide-ranging fortunes of various membership classes within the early levels of this 12 months, however the truth that six collection in motion final weekend didn’t even attain double figures, whereas an extra 19 grids attracted a measly 10-15 automobiles, is proof of the potential downside. Though it’s additionally price highlighting there have been some implausible entries achieved, significantly on the Silverstone 750 Motor Membership gathering.

INSIGHT: How national entries in the first month of the season stack up

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Now, I’m not silly sufficient to assume that grid numbers would universally enhance had there been fewer occasions final weekend to create much less dilution. Some races had been held at circuits akin to Pembrey and Cadwell Park which might be by no means possible to attract within the crowds, no matter what number of different choices there are for drivers.

Nonetheless, there are some examples of apparently poor planning – akin to each the Basic Sports activities Automobile Membership and Historic Sports activities Automobile Membership Particular Saloons and Modsports classes being in motion on the identical weekend, probably hampering the numbers in every. Or three of the 4 principal ‘fashionable’ one-make MG collection closely based mostly across the ZR having clashing rounds. For courses the place there’s a restricted variety of automobiles out there, such scheduling is unhelpful.

Three ‘fashionable’ one-make MG collection had been all in motion on the identical weekend at totally different UK venues

Picture by: Steve Jones

However what makes the sheer variety of occasions this previous weekend much more baffling is a look on the calendar the week earlier than. Simply 4 automobile circuit racing occasions had been held over 11-12 Might – and two of these had been very small fixtures.

It appears an apparent reply, however couldn’t a few of the occasions have been held a weekend earlier, thereby avoiding this pointless congestion? Sure, there are many different calls for on the tracks’ time, however having such an overflowing weekend finally helps no person.

And it’s the identical with this weekend’s clashing British Touring Automobile Championship and British GT occasions, at Snetterton and Donington Park respectively. It appears insanity that the UK’s two premier automobile racing classes are competing on the identical weekend, dividing spectators and creating challenges for groups fielding automobiles in each championships and their helps.

At a time when race occasions are being cancelled or shortened resulting from an absence of entries, it’s unsustainable to maintain churning out calendars that function 10-event weekends

But it’s not as unhealthy because the much more ridiculous conflict between the 2 final month when simply 66 miles separated the BTCC at Donington and British GT at Silverstone. Contemplating the BTCC has already launched its calendar for subsequent 12 months – and was equally early in unveiling its 2024 schedule – there isn’t any excuse for clashing occasions. One of many many causes for the roster being revealed so early is to assist different classes with their planning.

So, what’s the answer to this calendar conundrum? “Do we actually need to go down the route of claiming get AI to work out what’s one of the best ways of spreading the occasions out and so everybody will get their fair proportion?” suggests one observer, jokingly. “It might be very troublesome for one individual to attempt to coordinate.”

In the end, it wants championship organisers, golf equipment and circuits to work collectively and see the larger image slightly than getting misplaced in their very own particular person worlds. Some argue that Motorsport UK ought to get extra concerned and have a direct function in organising who races the place and when (such a suggestion has been debated). Some are additionally in favour of the governing physique taking a firmer hand on these launching new collection, too.

However that takes us again to the {old} argument of whether or not it needs to be direct intervention or market forces that determines the image. Having Motorsport UK closely concerned additionally dangers including additional issues to what’s already a difficult course of. And the way wouldn’t it be determined who will get precedence with out inflicting tantrums?

This clearly just isn’t a simple scenario to resolve, however that doesn’t imply it’s an issue that needs to be ignored. At a time when race occasions are being cancelled or shortened resulting from an absence of entries (see the axed C1 24 Hours at Anglesey as one instance), it’s unsustainable to maintain churning out calendars that function 10-event weekends. As an alternative, the game must discover each avenue to make sure its long-term future, and the way the calendar is constituted is only one factor of that. In the end, as with so many areas of life, communication and collaboration are key.

Calendar clashes also impact spectators, such as British Touring Car and British GT meetings being held close together on the same weekends

Calendar clashes additionally influence spectators, akin to British Touring Automobile and British GT conferences being held shut collectively on the identical weekends

Picture by: JEP

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