Schwerkolt’s empathy towards newly nomadic rivals

Charlie Schwerkolt

Team 18 boss Charlie Schwerkolt has offered empathy towards the three Queensland-based Supercars teams who face a potentially extensive period on the road.

Drivers and other personnel from teams and Supercars itself were preparing to head across the border today given the ongoing COVID-19 situation in southeast Queensland.

The Tasmanian Government’s decision to impose a 14-day quarantine on anyone who has arrived from the five local government areas declared as hotspots in and around Brisbane more or less forced the hand of the category’s northern teams.

That’s given the third round of the 2021 Repco Supercars Championship is scheduled to take place at Symmons Plains on the Apple Isle – an event which today was announced as being pushed back a week to the April 17-18 weekend.

Dick Johnson Racing and Matt Stone Racing today moved their entire squads into New South Wales, with no set return date.

Triple Eight Race Engineering meanwhile, at the very least, has its GT drivers and crew across the border, given its involvement in the upcoming round of the Fanatec GT World Challenge Australia Powered by AWS at Bathurst.

Last year, Supercars’ Victorian teams spent more than 100 days on the road as their home state battled a major coronavirus outbreak.

It means they’re well aware of the challenge ahead that may be ahead for their northerly counterparts.

Schwerkolt, who ordinarily splits time between the Gold Coast and the Victorian suburb of Mount Waverley where his race team and forklift business are located, spared a thought for DJR, MSR and Triple Eight.

“It’s a massive disruption to everyone’s lives in the whole team,” he told Speedcafe.com.

Scott Pye, Michael Caruso and Charlie Schwerkolt

“There’s obviously some differences – we had a lockdown for four months and hopefully the Queensland teams won’t have anything like that, but we weren’t given a lot of notice in Melbourne, we just had to get out.

“We had about four to six hours’ notice to get out, otherwise we were stuck.

“Fortunately for the Queensland teams, they got a little bit more notice but I feel for them not being with their partners, et cetera over Easter if that’s what they have got to do.

“So we know how they feel and let’s hope it’s not for too long.”

Team 18 did benefit in at least one way from the prolonged time away from home, Schwerkolt reminded.

“As a new two-car team we were forced to bond very, very quickly and for a long period of time, which I think has paid dividends,” he added.

Team 18 currently is fourth in the teams’ championship, with Mark Winterbottom leading their charge in the drivers’ title race in fifth overall.

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