Uncertainty over the future of motorsport in Australia has also hit the carsales TCR Australia series.
Racing is unlikely until May, at the earliest, due to a postponement as part of a COVID-19 pause that includes S5000, Porsche Sprint Challenge and other supporting events.
The first two legs of the championship, at Sydney Motorsport Park and Bathurst, are definitely out as the whole Shannons Nationals series could shrink to just six rounds.
The latest delay follows cancellation of the carsales Asia-Pacific Cup and the first round of the Australian S5000 Championship at the Australian Grand Prix, after Garth Tander had qualified on pole position with his Audi RS3 for three planned sprint races.
“Winton in May is the next logical time we can kick-off the season. But we’re exploring multiple scenarios,” the CEO of ARG, Matt Braid, tells carsales.
“We were looking at ways to run at Sydney Motorsport Park in a fortnight, but it’s not possible. We might have made it work with a limit on 500 people at an event, but with 100 it’s just not possible.
“We are working around the current government advice and directives. We have to explore what we do from here.”
The biggest change is at Bathurst, where events set for the 6-hour meeting over Easter will be amalgamated with the Bathurst International in November.
Under that situation, the TCR series will be reduced to six events as the International is already set for a leg of the Australian sprint series as well as the born-again Bathurst 500 two-driver enduro.
Braid confirms the Winton race from May 1-3 is still on the calendar, and set for the start of the TCR series, but nothing is firm.
“We have to explore what we do. When we can start and whether we go to a six-round series or explore opportunities to stay at seven,” Braid says.
“We’d love to be able to stay at seven, but looking at the timeframe we night have to stay at six.”
ARG has been working with Motorsport Australia, the umbrella organisation for the Shannons Nationals, to revise its calendar.
“Both parties have extensively explored many varying options to deliver a high-quality event in the current environment. The ability to operate in a safe and operationally feasible manner underpinned this analysis.”
Braid says TCR and S5000 teams are coping with the disruption and predicts “a very busy time in the back end of the year” once motorsport gets going again.
“Most competitors love nothing more than going racing. But as the days have gone on, even the ones that are most strongly in favour of racing are understanding the situation.
“While everyone is disappointed, they realise we have to adapt to the current scenario.”
“Looks like I’m spending more time with the dog,” tweets TCR front-runner John Martin, reacting to the postponements.