The first major Australian motorsport event of 2021 is hanging by a Covid thread.
The future of the Boost Mobile Race Tasmania meeting, headlined by the return of the carsales TCR Australia Series, will be decided by the end of the week as organisers try to work around the latest series of interstate border closures and quarantine requirements.
The event, at Symmons Plains, was intended to mark a return to racing for the Australian Racing Group – with its high-profile S5000 single-seaters, Trans Am and Touring Car Masters – and deliver top-class racing to the Apple Isle for the first time in nearly two years.
But, with teams spread across the Eastern states and many based in Sydney, ARG boss Matt Braid admitted the Covid situation is threatening the return to racing and the future of the meeting is likely to be decided within days.
“A decision is imminent. We’re in daily discussion,” Braid told Race News.
“At this stage it is definitely on. But we’re in discussions.
“If we had to quarantine, the decision has to be made by the end of the week.”
Braid admitted it would be tough for teams to get to Tasmania under the current restrictions without having to quarantine, the same problem for the semi-professional and amateur ARG teams that meant there were no meetings though the whole of 2020.
“We’re monitoring it on a daily basis. And seeing what options there are,” Braid said.
“Obviously it’s a risk the way things are developing. (But) going into 2021, everything is a risk. And Tassie is no exception.”
The Tasmanian expedition was planned as a major flat-waving event for ARG in its third year, after a very promising start to TCR Australia racing in 2019 and the signing of the other top-level support categories. It’s more than just a single event at Symmons Plains around Australia Day, with a non-championship meeting to follow at Baskerville outside Hobart.
“The Tasmanian government is right behind it. They want to see it happening,” said Braid.
It’s also a pet project for Barry Rogers, now the major shareholder in ARG, who has long-term ties to Tassie along with his former racer and team boss father, Garry Rogers.
Braid admitted there are challenges at the moment, and he sees them continuing for much of the coming year.
“We took a very cautious approach with the 2021 calendar. That’s why we said from the start that it was provisional,” he said.
“Each event has provisions in place to postpone or re-schedule. It’s the nature of motorsport – it’s a national sport and it’s a locational struggle.”
But he refused, for the moment, to talk about a postponement for Race Tasmania or a potential date later in the year.
“We’re not disclosing that at the moment. And we hope we don’t need to disclose those plans.”