Supercars could be absent from the Australian GP in another forced schedule reshuffle but the sport insists it’s prepared to navigate another rocky season.
Supercars could be absent from the Australian GP in another forced schedule reshuffle but the sport insists it’s prepared to navigate another rocky season.

Supercars plan to survive COVID and calendar challenges

A Formula One no-show is set to headline a host of COVID-19 forced calendar changes with V8 boss Sean Seamer revealing Supercars could miss the Australian GP for just the second time since 1985.

Already forced to open the season with a sprint round at Bathurst following the shock cancellation of the Adelaide 500, Seamer offered no guarantee that Supercars would be at Albert Park this year for Australia's biggest international event.

Supercars were forced to strike the Albert Park round from the V8 calendar when the FIA announced the Australian GP had been postponed until November because of coronavirus.

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"We're in ongoing discussions with the Grand Prix," Seamer said.

"Obviously it's a marquee event on the Australian motorsport community and the global motorsport calendar," Seamer said.

"So if there's a way for everybody to be there then we will look at it for sure. I think it's premature, November is a long time away in this current environment. So I think you can expect an update from us on that close to Q2."

After pulling off a minor miracle by navigating a host of national border restrictions to complete last year's championship, Seamer said the sport had been forced to incorporate contingency plans into this year's calendar.

"Last year we obviously went through multiple different scenarios and the learnings that we have drawn on from 2020 we have definitely carried forward into this year," Seamer said.

"We have got multiple different scenario plans and eventualities in case something goes wrong.

"We have got multiple different plans to navigate the season. Obviously, we showed a lot of resilience and ingenuity to navigate 2020.

"I don't think that we could ask our people to go through that again, which is why we have spent a lot of time looking at different plans. I think, from what we can see, certainly this year will be better than last year.

"But we certainly don't want to be naive as we say, but we have to be prepared."

 

The opening round of the Supercars season is at Bathhurst instead of Adelaide. Picture: Tim Hunter
The opening round of the Supercars season is at Bathhurst instead of Adelaide. Picture: Tim Hunter

 

Triple Eight Race Engineering boss Roland Dane said the coronavirus had exposed a need for more permanent race tracks.

The sport was last year forced to run back-to-back rounds at Sydney Motorsport Park in Sydney, Hidden Valley Raceway in Darwin and the Reid Park Street Circuit in Townsville.

"I would love to see several more permanent tracks in the country," Dane said.

"I think it should be an emphasis of Motorsport Australia to be pushing those much harder than it has because venues are important, both on and off-road, need to be protected, nurtured and helped where possible.

"The sort of news in Queensland that the funding is in place and work is carrying on now for the circuit outside Townsville is tremendous, the news that … plans continue to progress at Toowoomba also is great.

"But we need to see another circuit in New South Wales and in Victoria. It would be great to see a very good spec, permanent circuit in case Sandown gets enveloped by development, which has been talked about all through the 18-odd years that I have been in Australia and the sport here.

"So, it would be fantastic to have a great permanent circuit on the edge of Melbourne. Whilst Phillip Island is a great track, it is unfortunately a sub-par facility in terms of its pit lane, it also proves to be a bit of a trek for Melburnians and the cost of the circuit is too high."

 

Supercars boss Sean Seamer says the sport has a number of plans to get through the 2021 calendar.
Supercars boss Sean Seamer says the sport has a number of plans to get through the 2021 calendar.

Supercars great Mark Skaife said cost was the biggest issue facing the sport and COVID had forced a "correction" the series needed to make.

"Cost is the biggest issue," Skaife said.

"Everyone has spoken about the disastrous effects of the pandemic and what COVID has done and it's just been a traumatic, catastrophic circumstance for society and for all things, but it's in a way, you have to remain positive about what the COVID effect is and the COVID effect for us is a reset, it's a COVID correction that we need to make.

"The COVID correction is to reduce our costs and mostly reduce the difference between the front of the field and the back of the field.

"When we reduce the costs, we don't want it to look any worse or sound any worse, so the quality of our racing … I say this all the time, we have got the best touring car racing in the world value for money, absolutely no doubt.

"So what we don't want to do, we don't want to hurt our on-track stuff at all, we want all that to be as great as it always is, the whole field's within one second at most of the places that we go to.

"So you want the parity and the quality of racing and the entertainment package to be as good, if not better than it is right now.

 

Triple Eight boss Roland Dane says the coronavirus crisis highlighted a lack of permanent tracks for Supercars. Picture: Tim Hunter
Triple Eight boss Roland Dane says the coronavirus crisis highlighted a lack of permanent tracks for Supercars. Picture: Tim Hunter

 

"But you have got to do it in a more affordable way that is more sustainable for teams, more viable for the future of the sport, so it is a road map for the future that you have got to have.

"And then if you can do it in a way that the front of the way that the front of the field doesn't have such a big advantage over the back of the field, you have a more even playing field and you have more winners.

"And in essence, that gives you the entertainment package, you have more people on the weekend that can win."

Seamer also admitted other events were in doubt.

"The big thing for us is making sure that for the rounds like New Zealand, Tasmania, Perth - the rounds that are away from the eastern seaboard, having back-up plans for those," Seamer said.

"And making sure that we are able to predict and plan as much as possible so that people aren't going to be displaced from their families for long periods of time again."

 

Originally published as Supercars plan to survive COVID and calendar challenges


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