Reverse-grid racing in Supercars is out, at least for now, despite new moves to spice the racing through to the end of 2020.
Supercars boss Sean Seamer says there will be changes to formats, with different tyre allocations as one variable, but says reverse-grid starts are definitely not happening through the first three rounds at Sydney Motorsport Park, Winton in Victoria, and Darwin in the Northern Territory.
He also says the revived Sandown meeting in September is not intended to be a two-driver enduro, despite the history of a 500-kilometre pre-Bathurst tune-up, because of the uncertainty over the number of people who will be allowed at the meeting.
The formats for the first three races have been set by the Supercars Commission, but Seamer is not prepared to go public with full details until next week so that team bosses can be advised.
“The commission is looking at the ways to innovate,” says Seamer.
“You will see an evolution, and an introduction of different ideas, to understand the impact it has on the viewing experience. And over time we will continue to refine it.
“What we are focussed on is what we can do with the tools we have available to generate the most interesting racing. We want to look at all the tools in the toolbox. What formats. The tyre. Different tyres at different tracks.”
But reversing the qualifying order is not one of those tools.
“Not for the next three events. We have set the format for the next three events. For those three events there are no reverse grids,” he says.
On the Sandown subject, Seamer is more worried about crowd sizes than the potential for adding an extra enduro alongside the Bathurst 1000. He is also looking to the support program as other categories, from Carrera Cup with Porsche to the Toyota 86s, look to resume their racing.
“It’s highly unlikely that you will see an enduro at Sandown. We’re working through things.
“We have not got to the Sandown format yet. However, it is highly unlikely there will be an enduro there.”
On the subject of crowds, he says Supercars is not like football codes with giant seated stadiums and it’s requiring a different approach to get fans back to tracks.
“We’re looking at adjacent industries. We’re looking at the restrictions around campgrounds. And restaurants and bars. And social distancing.”
He says he is hoping for “further clarity” on the Winton outlook once the Victorian government updates its next move on COVID-19 restrictions.
“Off the back of that we will make a submission and proposal for what we would like to do.”
The revised calendar has taken some hits, notably at The Bend in South Australia where circuit chief Sam Shahin has attacked Supercars over its decision.
“Sam is obviously frustrated. He’s entitled to his own opinion,” Seamer says.
“We’ve had a challenge working up this calendar. There have been no easy decisions. We look forward to getting back there next year.”
Seamer says the COVID-19 landscape is changing rapidly and it was better to take a hit in 2020 than prolong the pain into next year.
“To be honest, we’re racing a lot early than we thought. We focussed on making the hard decisions in 2020 and giving ourselves the best chance of having a normal championship in 2021. Rather than carrying over the disruption into 2021.”