Supercars’ regular Medical Delegate, Dr Carl Le, will not attend this weekend’s Truck Assist Sydney SuperSprint.
The experienced Dr Matthew MacPartlin, a member of the Motorsport Australia National Medical Advisory Committee, will instead fill the role at Sydney Motorsport Park.
While regular Race Director Tim Schenken was not issued a permit to enter New South Wales from Victoria after the border was closed just over a week ago in response to Melbourne’s new COVID-19 outbreak, Dr Le would have been allowed to.
However, a decision was taken that he too will remain at home for the weekend.
“I’m slightly different in that I qualify for a border pass, so I had a border pass when they first instituted it,” Dr Le explained to Speedcafe.com.
“Then they updated the parameters and had different classes and I reapplied and got a different, second border pass, which didn’t require isolation because of my work and obviously wearing PPE at work anyway.
“The second one required the employer to have a site COVID-19 safety plan, and Supercars obviously has a really good one, so that all met the criteria but at the end of the day, the decision was made that there’s a lot of focus and attention and they didn’t want any more risk.”
Victoria today announced its largest daily increase in coronavirus cases of 317, a factor which Dr Le also drew attention to.
“Clearly the situation in Victoria continues to be problematic and given that I am a director at two emergency departments, whilst it would be lawful for me to travel for the event, clearly there’s a need for me to stay in the state as well,” he added.
Dr MacPartlin has worked as Deputy Chief Medical Officer for the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix and Rally Australia, and stood in for Dr Le in the Supercars role previously.
He was already on standby for this weekend’s event, as is a local emergency specialist for the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship’s visit to Darwin’s Hidden Valley Raceway which follows next month.
“Even preparing for that (absence), I’d already put in place the same doctor to cover me, Matt MacPartlin again,” noted Dr Le.
“He’s covered me before when my father passed away about seven years ago, and I’ve known him for a long time.
“Likewise, I’ve put in place contingencies for Hidden Valley as well, assuming that it’s going to be impossible for Victorians to go up there without having to properly quarantine for two weeks beforehand.”
While SMP was the only option for Supercars to race this weekend once Winton Motor Raceway became infeasible due to its Victorian location and Queensland travel restrictions, the Harbour City venue had been chosen for the resumption of the season in part because its facilities lent themselves to the necessary COVID-19 precautions/restrictions.
The second straight event at Eastern Creek will feature similar measures to the first, albeit with medical standard face masks now mandatory in pit lane and compulsory COVID-19 testing instituted for Victorian team personnel in attendance.
Action begins on Saturday with Dunlop Super2 Series/Kumho Tyre Super3 Series Practice 1 from 10:15 local time/AEST, followed by Rookie Practice for the Supercars Championship.