Wakefield Park has become the latest facility to offer a temporary home to Supercars teams which have been forced to relocate due to border closures.
Four Victorian-based Virgin Australia Supercars Championship squads have shifted to Sydney Motorsport Park due to the closure of the New South Wales border which took effect on Wednesday, while Kelly Racing has moved to a Kelly family farm near Mildura, but on the northern side of the border.
Wakefield Park Raceway, New South Wales’ only other permanent motor racing circuit, is located just outside Goulburn, two hours by road from SMP to the south-southwest.
“We’re in the position where we’ve got quite a considerable amount of garages available so we’re offering up some space to be able to facilitate some V8 Supercar teams, or from Super2 or Super3, to come along and either be housed here for the week leading up or after the event,” Operations Manager Dean Chapman told Speedcafe.com.
“We’d be comfortable to house them for up to a couple of months, if that was what was required.
“With this weekend being the only concern that we have in the foreseeable future, meaning the next four to six weeks, we know that after that we are able to adjust and move some other people around to put them into the pit lane garages on days like that.”
Further benefits of Wakefield Park include the potential to stay onsite in cabins located at the race track, a cafe which can serve three meals per day, and a location which provides easy access to the west of the state on the way to Darwin.
According to Chapman, the Benalla Auto Club-owned circuit is motivated by a desire to promote motorsport, rather than profit, and would be willing to negotiate fees if teams did need to stay for several weeks.
“We’re doing a normal garage price, what any of our regular customers have on the day,” he explained.
“However, if they’re staying here for a month or two and stuff like that, we will definitely just organise a special rate.
“Just at the moment, as we think it may only last about three or four, maybe five days, there’s that (regular) rate.
“However, if it’s a long-term solution, we’re not here to make money out of the situation, we’re just trying to support motorsport, and we’ll come to a nice, comfortable figure which is viable for the teams, but also viable for us to ensure the security of the venue and X, Y and Z.
“To us, it’s all about ensuring motorsport gets going, whether it’s at the top level tier or the bottom level tier, and just ensuring motorsport can get back to where it was pre-COVID.”
Wakefield Park’s offer follows a suggestion from Paul Morris that southeast Queensland could become a hub for the championship, with displaced teams operating out of his Norwell Motorplex facility.
Victorians will effectively be prohibited from entering Queensland at all on Friday, following an announcement from Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk this morning.
However, the Queensland Health and Ambulance Services Minister, Steven Miles, also the Deputy Premier, has since clarified how exactly the order will work.
It will apply to those who have been in Victoria in the preceding fortnight, meaning that Supercars personnel who have relocated to NSW could enter Queensland after a fortnight out of their home state.
“There’s a period of a week to 10 days where there is an escalated risk, where there’s a risk that people from New South Wales were in contact from people with Victoria before their border closed and they may enter Queensland during their incubation period – before they can be tested for COVID-19,” said Miles.
“And that’s why we’re announcing these strict new measures because we can’t afford to import that risk from other states.
“For people who have been in Victoria or lived in Victoria within 14 days, they will no longer be able to travel to Queensland.”
Queensland residents will continue to be forced into quarantine if they have visited Victoria for the same period, the requirement which led to the move of the next Supercars Championship event, the Truck Assist Sydney SuperSprint, away from Wakefield Park’s sister circuit of Winton.
Victorian teams will be domiciled outside the state at least until the completion of that event, on July 18-19, although potentially longer due to ‘stay at home’ orders declared in Melbourne after the announcement of the NSW border closure.