Supercars confident in calendar despite COVID-19 threat
Sunday 11th July, 2021 - 6:00am
Supercars CEO Sean Seamer says there is still some way to go before determining the fate of the Sydney SuperNight amid the escalating COVID-19 situation in New South Wales.
After the double-header at the Reid Park Street Circuit in Townsville, the Repco Supercars Championship is slated to feature at Sydney Motorsport Park across August 20-22.
Greater Sydney was plunged into a one-week lockdown on June 26, which has since been extended and looks unlikely to abate as cases increase day on day.
Speaking with select media including Speedcafe.com, Seamer said Supercars can be flexible with the Sydney SuperNight.
While the event is still some six weeks away, there has been chatter in the paddock of a possible rescheduling.
“I think the first thing I’d say is we’re still six weeks out from Sydney,” said Seamer.
“Whilst I’m sure people are, like everybody, monitoring the situation in New South Wales quite closely, we’re still six weeks away.
“That is a dedicated race track so we can be much more agile in the planning in the lead-up to that event than something like a street race and I think we demonstrated that last year.
“It gives us the opportunity to manage different restrictions or different challenges in the lead-up to the event.”
While the category boss has previously stated the calendar is flexible, Seamer this week said this year’s is “not fluid at all” despite unrest created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Seamer is also confident the Perth SuperNight at Wanneroo Raceway, which follows the Sydney SuperNight, will go ahead on its current September 11-12 date.
That’s despite growing speculation in the Supercars paddock that calendar changes are afoot.
Western Australia has been among the states to act quickly in shutting borders in response to COVID-19 outbreaks.
“We’ve got a high degree of confidence around Perth given that the teams are located in Queensland and Victoria, and then anything beyond that is months away,” said Seamer, noting Team Sydney has relocated to its alternate site being the Tekno headquarters at Yatala.
“I think to burn too much energy worrying about things that you can’t control beyond three months in this world as it stands right now doesn’t make a lot of sense.
“Like I say, that confidence is borne out of the situation in Queensland and Victoria right now and the fact that our teams and the majority of our partners and suppliers are based in both of those states,” he said of the Perth event.
“Now if the situation changes there, then yes, absolutely we’ll have to look at additional options and we have back-up plans.”
Beyond Sydney and Perth, the Auckland round of the championship is arguably one of the most vulnerable.
Like the Western Australian Government, the New Zealand Government has been quick to respond to outbreaks in Australia, temporarily putting the travel bubble on hold.
What remains unclear is where the Winton SuperSprint might fit into the 2021 schedule.
Supercars has twice postponed the round in rural Victoria, the second postponement coming without a new provisional date.
A slot in the back end of the calendar where the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix was intended, in November, has been rumoured as an option.
“Yeah, we are absolutely looking at Winton as both getting back there but potentially dropping in to cover an event if for whatever reason we couldn’t make it,” said Seamer.
“Like I said, Perth as we sit here today, less of a concern and we have plenty of time for New Zealand.
“Mid-September is when we’ll need to make a call one way or another on New Zealand because of logistical issues but also because of the planning that the teams and Adrian [Burgess, head of motorsport] and the motorsport department need to make and partners like Dunlop.
“There’s a few things that need to be factored into that,” Seamer said of a new Winton SuperSprint date.
“I think one of the things that we’re working through and Shane [Howard, chief operating officer] and the team are working through with [the] Benalla [Auto Club] is the ideal time to be there from a weather point of view and then factoring that back into our logistics.
“And also considering, would it potentially need to replace an event in the back half of the year? So there’s multiple scenarios that see Winton coming back in.”
The ongoing NTI Townsville 500 forms Round 6 of the 2021 Repco Supercars Championship.
As it stands, the remaining six rounds are scheduled as follows: Townsville SuperSprint, Sydney SuperNight, Perth SuperNight, Bathurst 1000, Auckland SuperSprint, and Gold Coast 500.