Boost Bathurst wildcard in jeopardy unless border rules change
Thursday 28th October, 2021 - 6:00am
Kiwi wildcard duo Greg Murphy and Richie Stanaway may have to wait another year to contest the Repco Bathurst 1000 unless border restrictions are eased soon.
As it stands, the Boost Mobile-backed Erebus Motorsport-run effort is at risk of not going ahead due to travel complications on both sides of the ditch.
While New South Wales has declared it will welcome international arrivals from November 1, that will initially only be open to Australian citizens and residents.
There have been discussions regarding the opening of the border to New Zealand arrivals, but as yet nothing has been firmed up.
Right now, if the pair were to enter New South Wales, they would have to conduct 14 days of hotel quarantine, which in itself could complicate pre-event preparations pending their date of arrival.
Even if Murphy and Stanaway do get to Australia, they face a greater obstacle in that once this year’s Bathurst 1000 is run and done they currently cannot return to New Zealand.
At the present moment, the New Zealand Government requires that all overseas arrivals conduct managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ).
Introduced late last year, the system requires that those wishing to enter New Zealand apply for a hotel quarantine voucher.
Due to high demand, a ballot system has been introduced and allots a few hundred or thousand places at a time with room releases announced sporadically.
With tens of thousands of New Zealanders trying to return home, Murphy and Stanaway have been unable to secure themselves spots in MIQ following the Bathurst 1000.
The pair will have to hope restrictions are eased before they fly over in November.
That could come as soon as today with the New Zealand Government reportedly set to announce changes to the MIQ system.
The government has foreshadowed plans to allow New Zealand citizens and residents arriving from low-risk countries to isolate at home.
Whether changes permitting their return come in time for the Bathurst 1000 remains to be seen, however.
“We don’t have any ability currently under the regime to be able to get back to New Zealand from Australia,” Murphy said, speaking with Speedcafe.com.
“We don’t have any official access to Australia either, but I think that might be forthcoming from what I gather.
“I think the ability to get into New South Wales is getting easier by the day, but nothing has changed in the information we’ve got about New Zealand and the ability to return.
“We don’t have MIQ. As the rules currently stand there’s not a way to get back to New Zealand.”
In any case, a deadline of November 14 has been set to finalise plans.
That would leave them sufficient time to travel to Australia, test at least once at Sydney Motorsport Park, and be ready in time for the Bathurst 1000 on November 30-December 5.
Murphy, a four-time Great Race winner, said the build-up to this year’s event has been lacking.
He and Stanaway haven’t set foot in a Supercar this year; meanwhile, the Supercheap Auto-backed wildcard of Russell Ingall and Broc Feeney has completed three full test days.
“Our preparation is compromised as it is, massively,” said Murphy.
“Neither of us are certainly happy with our lead-up to a race such as Bathurst as far as seat time, which is non-existent.
“It’s far from ideal. We seriously need to cram at least two full days, if not three, from mid-November before we turn up at Bathurst and go on track.”
If worse comes to worst, the wildcard can still happen in 2022.
Boosting that chance is the postponement of the Gen3 introductions, which had been mooted for a mid-year rollout, to the start of 2023.
Adderton, who is bankrolling the effort, is still working on the basis that the wildcard goes ahead this year.
“We’re committed to giving it everything to make it happen,” he told Speedcafe.com.
“We’re saying to the [New Zealand] government, ‘Look, we’ve got the car, we’ve got the biggest race in the country, New Zealanders have been locked down for a long time, let them go and let them come back and give New Zealand something to get excited about and look forward to’.
“I’m hoping that the New Zealand Government sees this as an important thing for the country. This is a big race, two Kiwis in the race with a kiwi on the side of the car.
“I think it would be a shame if the government didn’t let these guys come back and forth and it would be a shame for the country.
“I’m optimistic that we can get them in [to Australia]. I’m optimistic [New Zealand] will open the border sometime in December when they hit their 90 percent vaccination rate. We’re going to leave it right until the last minute and see how we go.”
Adderton confirmed that if they do not know by November 14 whether the pair will be able to return to New Zealand then this year’s effort is “game over”.
Asked whether substitute drivers were an option in the event that Murphy and Stanaway couldn’t race, Adderton said he hadn’t made a decision on that front.
“Right now we’re 100 percent focused on Greg and Richie. I don’t want to sidetrack ourselves with doing anything else.”
Supercars action at the Repco Bathurst 1000 will take place from the Thursday to Sunday of race week (December 2-5).