Long-mooted plans for a second circuit at Australia's iconic Mount Panorama facility have moved a step closer with news that Bathurst Regional Council is set to earmark $10 million towards the plans in its budget.
For the past decade or more there has been a vision to build a permanent circuit which would utilise land to the rear of the Rydges hotel and link into the lower portions of the historic main course. This would provide a facility suitable for motorcycle racing and other year-round activities.
Councillors are now set to sign off the funding when they agree their 2015-16 management plan and are also being asked to commit a further $10 million allocation for the 2016-2017 financial year. In addition to a $5 million grant already confirmed from the State of New South Wales, this would give circuit bosses a $25 million 'war chest' to begin development.
As well as a permanent circuit, the longer term vision is to create a motor sport park to encourage the development of new businesses around the perimeter. It's thought a number of established firms could relocate from Sydney if the proposals become a reality.
Bathurst mayor Gary Rush told the local Western Advocate newspaper that funding was vital to ensuring the best facility possible for the town. "The whole object of the initiative is to build a world class facility and we can't skimp on that. The critical component is to get the design and safety of the track right. That will ensure we build something in keeping with Mt Panorama.
"We have to ensure we don't miss this opportunity to have an international class facility that will benefit the wider region and NSW for decades to come. As they say, 'if we build it, they will come'," he added.
No firm layout plans have been released, although Michael McDonough's M-Track consultancy was commissioned several years ago to review initial proposals. As a result of the review, M-Track put forward an amended circuit design (see left) as part of the second circuit feasibility study. It is not known whether these may form the basis of any future project.