Supercars and mountain bikes vie for attention

Wheel alignment: Two wheels or four? Tasmania will be simultaneously hosting the Supercars at Symmons Plains and the mountain bike Enduro World Series at Derby on April 7-9.

Wheel alignment: Two wheels or four? Tasmania will be simultaneously hosting the Supercars at Symmons Plains and the mountain bike Enduro World Series at Derby on April 7-9.

Two-wheeled manpower or four-wheeled horsepower.

Mud and berms or tarmac and hairpins.

The depths of Derby or the plains of Powranna.

Northern Tasmania has lined up a fascinating sporting double booking next month – both featuring sweaty helmets, pivotal racing line selections and agonising tyre decisions.

On the weekend of April 7-9, the state will host both its annual round of the national Supercars series and its inaugural round of the mountain bike Enduro World Series. 

The former is Tasmania’s only serious involvement in a national sporting series.

Before anybody gets pedantic and points out the Sheffield Shield – a record-breaking innings and 172-run defeat and just three wins from 25 matches cannot be considered a serious involvement.

The Supercars’ customary visit to Symmons Plains has become firmly established as the state’s largest annual sporting event, attracting crowds of up to 60,000 across the three days of competition.

Star performers like Jamie Whincup, Craig Lowndes and Mark Winterbottom renew their acquaintance with a tight 2.4-kilometre circuit they could probably drive blindfolded with a support program which my learned colleague Barry Oliver states is a significant improvement on last year’s dismal offering.

At about the same time that the cars are being unloaded from assorted B-doubles off the Midland Highway, some equally colourful and envied machines will be released from roof racks about 120km to the north-east alongside the Tasman Highway.

The vehicles may not be quite as expensive, speeds a tad slower and names like Richie Rude, Damien Oton and Jerome Clementz not exactly of the household variety, but the 80km Blue Derby network will host an event just as significant to its sport.

In 2013, the newly-formed Enduro Mountain Bike Association united seven existing large events across four countries and two sides of the Atlantic Ocean to create the flagship Enduro World Series.

Now in its fifth year, the roadshow is descending on a half-abandoned former tin mining community which has been given a new lease of life by its universally-admired mountain bike trails.

The simultaneous events have a couple of things in common.

Both form the official second round of their series.

The Supercars arrive from the opening round in Adelaide (albeit via the non-championship Australian Grand Prix weekend in Melbourne) as part of a 15-round series that visits every Australian state plus New Zealand.

The mountain bikes also arrive direct from the land of the long white cloud after their opening exchange in Rotorua as part of an epic globe-trotting eight-round adventure that takes in North America and Europe.

For Derby to find itself on the same calendar as such global adventure sport Meccas as Aspen and Whistler indicates what a feather in its cap this competition is.

Rotorua may have its geysers, County Wicklow its mountains and Millau the tallest bridge in the world, but none of them have a rock painted like a fish.

Of more significance is the exposure that both events bring to Tasmania.

Live free-to-air coverage means Symmons Plains gets beamed into living rooms, or more likely man sheds, across the continent while the EWS has recently announced a three-year partnership for mainstream television distribution of its race highlight shows with one of the world’s largest distributors of sports media.

Admittedly, the cars may have a more dedicated following, but it’s also fair to say the lush greenery of the Blue Tier may be a bit more visually appealing than the windswept expanses of the Midlands.

The clash of dates should not prove too detrimental to either, in terms of patronage or coverage.

Instead, hopefully they can work together to showcase their shared host state to a national, and international audience.

Look out for the fish.

MOUNTAIN BIKE ENDURO WORLD SERIES

March 25-26: Rotorua, New Zealand

April: 8-9: Tasmania, Australia

May 13-14: Madeira, Portugal

May 28: County Wicklow, Ireland

June 30-July 1: Millau, France

July 29-30: Aspen, USA

August 13: Whistler, Canada

September 30-October 1: Ligure, Italy

SUPERCARS SERIES

March 2-5 Clipsal 500, Adelaide

March 23-26 Australian Grand Prix, Melbourne

April 7-9 Tasmania SuperSprint

April 21-23 Phillip Island SuperSprint

May 5-7 Perth SuperSprint 

May 19-21 Winton SuperSprint 

June 16-18 Darwin Triple Crown 

July 7-9 Townsville 400

July 28-30 Ipswich SuperSprint 

August 18-20 Sydney SuperSprint

September 15-17 Sandown 500

October 5-8 Bathurst 1000

October 20-22 Gold Coast 600 

November 3-5 Auckland SuperSprint 

November 24-26 Newcastle 500

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