Supercars bullish about at-risk events

Supercars says it is sticking to its guns with the 2021 schedule despite a number of events being at risk to due COVID outbreaks and potential border closures.

Supercars bullish about at-risk events

The Sydney SuperNight, Perth SuperNight and Auckland SuperSprint are all thought to have a level of risk attached to them due to a spate of recent COVID-19 outbreaks on Australia's east coast.

Sydney is the most precarious as the New South Wales capital continues to deal with a widespread – at least by Australian standards – outbreak of the Delta variant.

The city is currently locked down with an outbreak-high 112 positive cases recorded in the last day.

As it stands Supercars is supposed to be racing at Sydney Motorsport Park on August 20-22.

The Perth and Auckland events are more at risk due to stringent border controls. Western Australia has been very conservative when it comes to its state border, requiring other states to have recorded 14 days of no community transmission for the border to be open.

The border between WA and Queensland is currently closed which, for example, would pose a problem for the Queensland-based teams if it were to continue. However with Queensland's latest outbreak seemingly under control, that border is likely to open in the next 10 days.

The border to Victoria, where most of the remaining teams are based, is open at the moment.

New Zealand, meanwhile, has consistently suspended its travel bubble with Australia when there have been outbreaks across the Tasman. With the logistical element of the cars travelling to another country, a firm decision on that is needed by mid-September.

While its entirely feasible that both borders would be open for the September 11-12 (Perth) and November 6-7 (NZ) events, they will always carry an element of risk due to that conservatism.

Motorsport.com sources have indicated there are a number of contingencies in place, with The Bend and Winton in the frame to act as replacements for Perth and NZ if needed, and a potential postponement of the Sydney event until November.

But, speaking last Friday, Supercars CEO Sean Seamer said the category would continue its bullish approach to events and only make changes if and when they are absolutely necessary.

“I think the first thing I’d say is we’re still six weeks out from Sydney," said Seamer.

"Whilst I’m sure people are, like everybody, monitoring the situation in New South Wales quite closely, we’re still six weeks away. That is a dedicated race track so we can be much more agile in the planning in the lead-up to that event than something like a street race and I think we demonstrated that last year – it gives us the opportunity to manage different restrictions or different challenges in the lead-up to the event.

"With regards to Perth and New Zealand, sure, those are ones that we are monitoring closely. New Zealand being November is less of a concern right now but, Perth in September is something that we’re monitoring and monitoring the Western Australian response to the situation in New South Wales.

"But keep in mind that none of our teams are based in Sydney. I think the guys at Tekno and Team Sydney have relocated and Brad Jones Racing is based in regional New South Wales, so we have a little bit of flexibility with Perth. It’s really more important how they view the borders with Queensland and Victoria than New South Wales."

Should all of the remaining events go ahead, there is a question mark over where the postponed Winton round will fit into the schedule.

Supercars is obligated to complete 12 events by its broadcast agreement, and would need the teams to sign off on adding extra rounds beyond that.

With Townsville now a double-header, there is 12 rounds on the schedule without adding Winton back into the mix.

One of the at-risk events falling over would, of course, solve that issue.

"We are absolutely looking at Winton as both getting back there but potentially dropping in to cover an event if for whatever reason we couldn’t make it," said Seamer.

As for a new date Seamer added: "There’s a few things that need to be factored into that. I think one of the things that we’re working through with [the Benalla Auto Club] is the ideal time to be there from a weather point of view, and then factoring that back into our logistics.

"And also considering would it potentially need to replace an event in the back half of the year. So there’s multiple scenarios that see Winton coming back in."

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