There is hope that August’s Shannons Motorsport Australia Championships opener at Sydney Motorsport Park will be allowed spectators, with organisers to work through the matter with government and the circuit.
The New South Wales Government has granted permission for crowds of up to 10,000 to attend sporting events from July 1, based on a 25 percent capacity limit for venues which would ordinarily be capable of holding up to 40,000 people.
Those events must, however, be ticketed and seated.
While the nature of Sydney Motorsport Park means that spectators could, in practice, observe social distancing, the venue and event would not meet those specific requirements as detailed by Prime Minister Scott Morrison last week.
The Western Sydney circuit’s grandstand has capacity of approximately 4000 which is typically not allocated seating, large swathes of grass spectator areas, and a mostly uncovered pit roof area.
Shannons Motorsport Australia Championships Director Michael Smith believes that crowds are a possibility when Round 1 takes place there on August 15-16, especially if the trends of easing restrictions continues.
“We’re currently investigating the possibility of allowing spectators to attend the opening round of the Shannons Motorsport Australia Championships at Sydney Motorsport Park,” said Smith.
“Ultimately, we are guided by the restrictions that are in place across NSW and we will certainly work closely with the NSW Government and Sydney Motorsport Park before any decision is made closer to the event itself.
“At the moment, restrictions are changing regularly and it’s too early to confidently say where those restrictions will sit in August, but given the trend towards allowing more people at events, we certainly think motorsport fans could likely be part of the opening round of the Shannons Motorsport Australia Championships.
“Motorsport is somewhat different to other field sports where spectators are predominantly seated in grandstands and don’t often move very far from their seat while the action is on.
“We of course have a number of pit paddocks and a much larger venue where people are free to move about, so we’re now working through how restrictions apply specifically to motorsport events and also how best we can maintain appropriate social distancing.
“We’re confident we can host a great event, observe social distancing requirements and keep everyone fit and healthy – that includes competitors and teams, key personnel – such as our loyal officials – and any members of the general public if they are able to attend.”
Motorsport Australia CEO Eugene Arocca hailed the Prime Minister’s announcement last week, stating a belief that participants and fans will benefit from it as long as they are able to observe the appropriate precautions.
Among the series named for the SMP Motorsport Australia Championships meeting are TCR Australia, the VHT S5000 Australian Drivers’ Championship, Porsche Michelin Sprint Challenge, Gulf Western Oils Touring Car Masters, and, most recently, the Australian GT Championship.