Winton SuperSprint currently to ‘proceed as normal’

The 2019 Winton Supercars event

The Winton SuperSprint is currently set to “proceed as normal”, the promoter has advised Speedcafe.com.

While the threat of a Greater Melbourne lockdown remains, just days out from the Friday start of track activity at Winton, there is promising news for the Benalla Auto Club (BAC) which runs the regional Victorian circuit and promotes the Supercars event.

Specifically, it has been advised this morning that the event may go ahead as normal, at this stage.

“We’re an approved Tier 1 public event and our advice from the Vic. Government regional events team is that we proceed as normal,” BAC CEO Chris Lewis-Williams told Speedcafe.com.

“Now, that’s as of today, so obviously case numbers and the like is fluid – and any other decisions that they make – but as a regional approved Tier 1 event, we are planning to proceed as normal.”

The development follows the announcement that the AFL matches which are being held in Melbourne this weekend will be played in front of crowds, after ticket sales had been suspended yesterday.

Winton is a Tier 1 event given attendance will exceed 7500 people and there are currently no changes to crowd/paddock arrangements at the circuit, although that too is subject to any further advice/restrictions which may arise.

Asked about whether any crowd zoning arrangements will be put in place, Lewis-Williams explained, “No, because the COVID plan for the event manages all that anyway.

“Look, it could be that there may be some modifications to the plan depending on what happens with case numbers and other restrictions in the next few days, but as of this morning, our COVID plan is approved, and our advice is we can run the event as we planned.”

The BAC handed over promotion to Supercars when it appeared that last year’s Winton event would have to go ahead without spectators, before it was moved to Sydney Motorsport Park anyway.

That would become a point of discussion between those two parties should a situation arise such that crowds are barred from attending again.

“They’d be discussions we’d have to have but we’ve worked really well, hand-in-hand to get the event to this stage, with a full understanding of the COVID overlay that lives over every event these days,” said Lewis-Williams.

“Should there be decisions that affect the ability for crowds to attend, we’d just start discussions and work out, ‘Is it viable for them [Supercars] to run it with no crowd?’ because obviously for us it wouldn’t be the case.”

Pressed on the possibility of a postponement, if need be, he responded, “We’ve had back-up plans since day one.

“We’ve got all scenarios on the table and we just monitor cases and government decisions, and then whichever one it falls into at the time is how we manage going forward.”

Among scenarios being considered is that spectators from Greater Melbourne, or specific suburbs/postcodes, are not allowed to attend, while others may still do so.

The Victorian capital was enclosed in a ‘ring of steel’ during last year’s second wave, while less onerous restrictions applied in the regions.

Whether or not the event is viable for BAC if only Melburnians are not allowed to attend is still being determined, while more specific scenarios are a moving target based on notification of COVID exposure sites.

“We’ve started doing that analysis but we haven’t finished it,” stated Lewis-Williams.

“We did the analysis yesterday of the tickets in the hot zones – the hot zones from yesterday, which I think are five or six postcodes – and it was about 40 tickets, so that was OK.

“But, we’re still in the middle of the analysis [following] when they announced all those other sites yesterday, so we’re still working through that.

“Then also if there is the Melbourne bubble like they had last year, we’ve still got to analyse what that would do in terms of ticket revenue.”

The Repco Supercars Championship is set to be joined at Winton by the Dunlop Super2 Series, Haltech V8 SuperUte Series, Toyota Gazoo Racing Australia 86 Series, Australian Prototype Series, and the HERA Victoria Excel Cup.

The former will hit the track for opening practice on Saturday, while Super2 headlines Friday track activity.

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