Race Tasmania ‘full steam ahead’ despite Omicron wave

The 2021 Race Tasmania event. Picture: Supercheap Auto TCR Australia Series

Race Tasmania is a “full steam ahead” proposition despite the Omicron outbreak which has cast doubt over other major motorsport events, according to the Australian Racing Group.

Symmons Plains, near Launceston, is slated to play host to the opening round of the Supercheap Auto TCR Australia Series for the second year in a row, on February 11-13, as well as sister ARG categories in the S5000 Australian Drivers’ Championship and Turtle Wax Trans Am Series.

That is thus the first national circuit racing event on the 2022 calendar, a fortnight before the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour which is in serious doubt following the latest outbreak of COVID-19 in the eastern states, particularly New South Wales and Victoria.

Nevertheless, ARG CEO Matt Braid is confident that Race Tasmania will proceed.

“Race Tasmania’s full steam ahead,” he told Speedcafe.com.

“It’s done in partnership with the Tasmanian Government and obviously they’re very positive about proceeding as is.

“The biggest thing for us, I think, is just being very conscious that we have a competitor base that stays healthy, and obviously can travel; that’s the key thing.

“But, as far as the event being run, we don’t foresee any issues there at this stage at all, based on the feedback we’re getting from all the stakeholders.

“But I think that the cause for concern is making sure that all our competitors are able to travel and stay safe.”

The concern over competitors comes after several fixtures in cricket’s Big Bash League and football’s A-Leagues had to be postponed in recent weeks, for reasons of players becoming infected and/or being contacts of COVID-19 cases.

Short of any drivers or crew members falling into the same situation, travel to Tasmania is relatively free for those who are fully-vaccinated, although pre-departure testing requirements exist for those who are coming from a high- or extreme-risk area (with the entirety of the mainland currently classified as the former).

ARG has contingencies in place should circumstances require, but is not expecting to need them.

“Off the back of what’s happened in last two years, we’ve going our eyes open to various scenarios that could happen,” said Braid.

“At this stage, we do have some contingencies in place but as things stand now, we’re pretty confident that we’re good to go.”

Last year’s inaugural Race Tasmania was still under a cloud until less than a fortnight out due to coronavirus outbreaks in Sydney’s Northern Beaches region and then South East Queensland, at a time when the island state was far stricter with respect to COVID-19 protocols.

While the Sydney Hobart yacht race which was to have started on Boxing Day 2020 was cancelled for the first time in its 75-year history, the Supercheap Auto TCR Australia Series opener went ahead just weeks later as planned, after the event’s organising team, led by Barry Rogers, was able to secure exemptions.

Pulling off this year’s event should be comparatively easy.

“If you compare it to 2021, the landscape’s certainly different in some ways,” noted Braid.

“Procedure-wise and from a point of view of consistent regulations, and the processes being more transparent and stable than what they were, that gives us the confidence.

“So, funnily enough, we’re actually probably better placed now than what we were last year.”

In addition to the Supercheap Auto TCR Australia Series, S5000, and National Trans Ams, Race Tasmania will also feature Hyundai Excels, Tassie Tin Tops, and HQ Holdens.

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