Shell V-Power Motorsport Park looks like being an omission from the 2024 Supercars calendar, Speedcafe has learned.
As outlined by Speedcafe in the past 24 hours, the presence or otherwise of The Bend had been a key factor in determining when and where the Repco Supercars Championship field will race next year.
It would now seem that there will be no stop at the South Australian venue in 2024, pointing to the likelihood of a 12-event season.
If that is indeed the case, then it would seem that Supercars management determined that the Shahin-owned facility was not a viable inclusion on the calendar once Taupo was added.
The championship's television contract stipulates a minimum of 12 events and there are indeed exactly a dozen on the 2023 calendar.
Under the terms of the Teams Racing Charter, Supercars is obliged to pay charter holders a higher grant if the season spans more than that minimum.
While there is widespread agreement among teams, drivers, fans, and championship management that 12 events is not enough – RACE Chairman Barclay Nettlefold expressed a goal of 15 events in 2024 in an interview with Speedcafe earlier this year – making the finances stack up is seemingly a tricky task for Supercars.
Speedcafe understands that teams are entitled $60,000 per charter for each event above the minimum 12, meaning a total of $1.44 million across the 24-car field next year.
However, although estimates vary wildly, it is believed that the sanction fee which The Bend might pay to Supercars, noting that it self-promotes its event, would not clear that $1.44 million.
In fact, the figure is thought most likely to be around the mid-six figures.
Supercars would, Speedcafe understands, earn some extra revenue from Foxtel for a 13th event, although the agreement is a complex one and the uplift would depend on factors such as the type of event, type of circuit, and whether or not it is held overseas.
Note that ‘Broadcast revenue' was $31,176,000 in the 2022 calendar year per RACE's most recent Annual Report, a period which falls within the current television rights deal.
That figure is not broken down geographically, although it is worth noting that broadcast revenue falls under ‘Revenue from contracts with customers' totalling $111,486,000, of which $105,327,000 is attributed to Australia and the balance of $6,159,000 to New Zealand.
If one assumes that the sanction fee for The Bend would be $500,000, then Supercars needs $940,000 extra from television to match the $1,44 million payable to teams in order to make a 13th event directly profit-neutral.
Of course, that ignores the additional costs which Supercars would incur through its Motorsport department, corporate functions, and the television production for which it foots the bill.
While a 13th event would be desirable to give the championship more momentum and, hopefully, greater mainstream cut-through, it is unlikely that RACE/Supercars would be keen on incurring a loss on another SuperSprint event within Australia.
As previously reported by Speedcafe, RACE already lost $2.7 million in its first year owning the category, and it would hardly be a surprise if that loss grows in the 2023 calendar year given further expenses in the rollout of Gen3.
For The Bend, Supercars is unlikely to be make-or-break.
It would at least be a ‘nice-to-have' as a branding exercise, creating a halo effect which would attract paying customers such as drive day participants, but whether or not it is directly profit-positive is unknown.
Unfortunately for The Bend, though, with Taupo coming online, Supercars' bargaining position strengthens given it has the 12 events it needs to fulfil its television contract.
It would thus be hardly a shock if the two parties could not reach an agreement on a sanction fee for the championship to head to Tailem Bend, where it has raced at least once every year since the facility opened in 2018.