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QR Supercars round hinges on safety upgrade

Tom Howard

Friday 8th December, 2017 - 1:56pm

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Queensland Raceway has featured on the Supercars calendar regularly since 1999

Supercars’ visit to Queensland Raceway next season remains in the balance following confirmation that safety improvements costing up to $1 million are required for the round to go ahead.

The championship signed a new deal from 2018-28 with Ipswich City Council (ICC), which underwrites the event, on the proviso that long overdue upgrades to the track’s safety are completed.

Supercars has had to install temporary tyre barriers for the past three years to ensure the circuit meets the criteria to secure a temporary CAMS track licence to operate the round, with the belted tyre walls remaining in place for the subsequent Shannons Nationals meeting.

Queensland Raceway recently underwent a triennial FIA track inspection, along with all other permanent circuits in Australia, including SA’s under-construction The Bend Motorsport Park, as well as the Mount Panorama and Newcastle street tracks.

While the details of FIA track inspector John Symes’ report on QR remain confidential, the circuit will require substantial safety upgrades, which could cost up to $1 million, to maintain the Grade 3 international permit required to host Supercars.

If the improvements aren’t implemented, Speedcafe.com understands CAMS will not issue the critical temporary licence needed, therefore putting the Ipswich SuperSprint from July 20-22 in jeopardy.

Supercars CEO James Warburton says the onus is on the ICC, and not circuit operator John Tetley, to complete the upgrades as per the terms of their contract.

“From what I have seen in the report, the estimate is about $1 million,” Warburton told Speedcafe.com.

“We have a very clear contract with Ipswich City Council and not the motorsport division, and they are absolutely responsible for putting the upgrades in.

“We have had a chat with John Tetley and he is more than happy for upgrades to occur as long as it doesn’t cost him money.

“I have no doubt QR will be on the schedule for 2018 – unless, of course, Ipswich City Council rescind on their contractual commitment.”

However, Speedcafe.com has also learned that Supercars is set to meet with the Queensland Government next week to seek funding for the upgrades.

The matter has been further muddied following a change of mayor in Ipswich and the recent announcement to shelve a proposed $220 redevelopment of the Willowbank motor sport precinct.

The initiative by the council-owned Ipswich Motorsport Park Pty Ltd (IMP) company included the QR safety upgrades, but this entity is now in the process of being wound up.

Ipswich City Council was unable to divulge its current situation regarding the implementation of safety upgrades when contacted by Speedcafe.com.

“Ipswich City Council has commenced a review of its controlled entities with a view to winding up IMP,” it said in a statement.

“As such, council is not in the position to be able to discuss contractual matters at this time owing to ongoing discussions with our industry stakeholders during this process.”

CAMS CEO Eugene Arocca told Speedcafe.com that enforcing permanent safety improvements at Queensland Raceway is outside of the governing body’s jurisdiction.

“QR is not a CAMS-licensed venue. It was only inspected at Supercars’ request,” Arocca told Speedcafe.com.

“The results of the track inspection have been sent to Supercars as our partner. It is up to them to do what they believe is in their and motorsport’s best interests.”

Queensland Raceway has been a fixture on the Supercars calendar since it opened in 1999.

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