Another Covid catastrophe has knocked the wheels off the TCR Australia Series and put uncertainty back into the Supercars season.
Karting has managed to dodge the impact of the latest snap lockdown in Victorian, and the knock-on restrictions on entry to Queensland, but top-level racing is reeling again.
The second of the pre-season Supercars tests, at Winton, has been moved back three days but with fingers crossed that there will no no extension to the Melbourne restrictions.
The TCR Australia event planned for Phillip Island, as the start of a series of two-plus-four events combining cars with bikes, has been postponed but Motorsport Australia has not confirmed a new date.
Critically, Supercars organisers are fretting over the potential impact on the season opener at Bathurst from February 26-28.
“Due to the recently announced five day, state-wide lockdown in Victoria, Supercars has rescheduled the planned test day in Winton to Friday, 19 February 2021. Further information will be provided once arrangements have been finalised,” is the only official news from Supercar headquarters.
The change to the Victorian test was confirmed while the Queensland pre-season hit-out was underway, prompting a range of speculation and re-scheduling of flights for Supercars technical staff who had already been booked on flights for the Winton test.
Motorcycling Australia and Motorsport Australia are more open about the postponement of the upcoming Australian All Wheels Race Fest at Phillip Island, scheduled for February 18-21.
“The health and safety of all those who would be part of the event has to be our priority and unfortunately race meetings like this cannot just be turned on and turned off in 24 hours,” said Michael Smith of Motorsport Australia.
The postponement comes as a big hit after the TCR Australia Series, which was to headline the meeting, failed to register a race during 2020.
TCR cars have run twice this year in Tasmania and Motorsport Australia is confident its next event, at Bathurst over the Easter weekend and including the 6-Hour race for production cars, will not be affected by the Covid closure.
The Australian Racing Group, promoter of TCR as well as S5000 and Touring Car Masters, is pushing ahead with its Bathurst plans and also working with Motorsport Australia on a fresh date for the Phillip Island event.
“Work will begin shortly to see if an alternative date is possible for this unique event which brings together a spectacular race event of both two and four wheels,” said Smith.
In contrast, and following significant changes to its calendar last year and into 2021, Karting Australia is pushing ahead with its title opener at Willowbank on February 19-20.
“The decision to proceed with the event is not a decision that we have taken lightly. We have taken all the prevailing circumstances into account and have planned for this eventuality,” said Kelvin O’Reilly, CEO of Karting Australia.
“I know that Drivers who reside in or who have visited Greater Melbourne since 9 February and who have not entered Queensland before 1am tomorrow morning (Saturday 13 February), will be disappointed that the Queensland Government decision means that they cannot race at Round 1. I also know that others will be happy that their plans will not be disrupted.”
But O’Reilly said the karting championship should not be affected.
“The points structure for the championship has been altered for 2021 to cater specifically for such situations with drivers able to miss a round of the championship and not affect their championship standing.”