TCR cars could be back on track in July.
A July start-up for the carsales TCR Australia Series is the target for the Australian Racing Group, with August as the fall-back if COVID-19 restrictions continue to affect large gatherings and interstate travel.
The TCR move includes ARG’s supporting categories, led by S5000 single-seaters, and also includes its marquee event at Bathurst in November.
ARG says it is in daily talks with Motorsport Australia about the resumption of motorsport in Australia and its director, Matt Braid, is confident without being bullish.
“We are starting to see a way out. It’s now looking like there is scope to move towards a calendar,” says Braid.
“July is our estimation, July or August. We are getting prepared for the back end of the year.”
He is not firm on track or dates but is aiming to retain as much of the original 2020 calendar as possible for TCR, S5000 and its supporting categories in Touring Car Masters and Trans Am.
“We’d probably err on the side of caution in starting to talk dates and confirming a calendar. Creating enough space that we’re clear of any hurdles, rather than trying to rush back,” says Braid.
“There are multiple options We want to work with as many circuits as we can that were in the exisiting calendar. And some of the dates we hope to maintain. And some of the locations.
“At this stage, how many rounds and exactly where we cannot confirm. It depends on when we get the final date that we can proceed.
“And to allow time to spool back up. We don’t go too rapid-fire in the back end of the year.”
Braid says ARG is monitoring the plans of other sports, using MA as its conduit to governments, and planning for early races without spectators.
On that front, he believes TCR could resume racing before Supercars because of the smaller number of people involved.
“We are a bit more nimble than Supercars. On paper we should be a bit more nimble, but I don’t know what their scenario is. We’re just focussed on what we can do in conjunction with MA at this stage.”
But he is definite on the Bathurst International in November.
“When we are juggling the calendar around, the one thing set in stone is Bathurst. We will be going at that event,” Braid says.
“The 6-Hour will be incorporated into that after the postponement from Easter.”
But he admits the chance of a Bathurst 500 with a big field of foreign cars and drivers is very small.
“The international flavour for the event is likely to be extremely hampered. Cars coming from Europe is extremely unlikely at the moment.
“We might see some international drivers, but it won’t be to the extent that we originally aimed for.”
While 2020 is full of unknowns, Braid says ARG is now planning for 2021 and is confident that its cost-effective categories should recover relatively quickly from the effects of the pandemic.
“It’s going to be a very tough environment. It’s going to be bouncing back, but in a difficult situation for everyone. it’s not going to be easy.
“If people do have a budget … from a bang-for-buck perspective … we think (our categories) are all very effective. And all offer their point of difference.
“Having that portfolio of categories, with $80,000 to $320,000 annual racing budgets gives us a lot of opportunities.”