The tough love lessons from Covid 2020 will continue into the upcoming Supercars championship.
Two-day race meetings, crew caps, spectator restrictions and no refuelling beyond the Bathurst 1000 are all part of the ’new normal’ for Supercars.
So, too, are restricted tyre allocations and the use of a super-soft Dunlop compound, for tracks including Winton where there is low degradation, instead of the mixed-rubber races last year.
But race numbers will be relocated, there will be points for the fastest laps and work is accelerating on the Gen3 prototypes ahead of a roll-out in.
“A lot of what we learned last year we’ve carried over,” Supercars CEO, Sean Seamer, said at a pre-season media briefing.
“Everything we learned last year that was positive had been ingrained for this year and a few years into the future.”
In the case of car numbers, Seamer said Supercars is responding to feedback from spectators and television viewers with a bolder display, but is holding back the introduction of LED displays until the introduction of Gen3 cars in 2022.
“As the cars evolve the numbers get smaller and smaller. We wanted to make the car number more visible and call out the driver that’s in the car,” he said.
“That’s something that’s under consideration for deployment this year. The LED panels are part of the Gen3 program, so this is an intermediate step.”
Seamer said work was well advanced on the Sandown meeting in March, with the focus on spectators in the grandstand and a park-and-view system.
“We want to get back to as much of the supercars experience as possible.”
Early planning also underway for a continuation at the re-scheduled Australian Grand Prix in November.
“We can make it work, operationally, but that’s something we’ll work through with the AGP.
“We haven’t made a call on that. We’re watching the situation closely. It would be premature to make a call on that. We estimate Q3 at the earliest.”
Seamer reported solid progress on the Gen3 program,
“The team and the (Gen3) committee made fantastic steps through last year. We can expect prototype around the middle of the year.
“There are quite a few different work streams. It’s striking the right balance in bringing the project to life and making sure we don’t rush things.
“And we (want to) put something out on track that represents what we will be racing.”
Seamer said the first Gen3 prototype should be completed in March, with a roll-out soon after that.
“The team are working towards cutting laps in the middle of the year.”
Further into the future, Seamer also revealed a plan to call for tenders for two Racing Entitlements Contracts which could grow the Supercars grid to 24 cars in 2022. It is likely to happen from June, to allow potential bidders to complete plans well before the new season.
But he is not making any solid commitment beyond exploring options for the two RECs which are currently mothballed.
“There is an obligation on supercars to tender those RECs and get the best price. Supercars handles the tender process for the owners of those RECs,” he said.
“There was certainly interest at the end of last year, but we haven’t started the process.”