TCR Hangs By A Thread

TCR Hangs By A Thread

The fate of the TCR Australia Series hinges on the ongoing border restrictions and the isolation of Victoria under COVID-19.

The only genuine hope for any 2020 competition is the two planned state-level meetings at Sandown in December following the cancellation of the signature Bathurst International in November.

But even the Sandown option is tenuous, and depends on interstate clearances for teams from NSW and Queensland.

“We’re talking to Motorsport Australia to see what the feasibility would be. If the broader situation improves then Sandown becomes a distinct possibility,” the CEO of the Australian Racing Group, Matt Braid, told Race News.

“The biggest thing is coming back into NSW and Queensland, with the quarantine situation. The capacity of holding an event remains, but the biggest challenge is getting people there. Bathurst could have happened as an event, but you cannot get people across the borders.

“We would like to try and do something this year if we can. The majority of teams and categories are raring to go.”

While Supercars has been able to take its fully-professional pitlane on an extended road trip, the TCR teams and their supporting crew – including S5000 single-seaters and Touring Car Masters – are largely amateur outfits that are unable to sacrifice the needs of their their day jobs.

The cancellation of the Bathurst International is a big hit but not remotely unexpected.

“The situation was not improving, so we had to make a call,” said Braid.

“We have waited as long as practical to make this decision but we needed to consider local businesses, competitors and their families, our volunteers and other service providers and provide a timely decision so as not adversely impact their families, their plans or incur unnecessary costs.

“It is obviously very disappointing to postpone the inaugural running of the Bathurst International. No stone was left unturned in the attempt to hold a viable and top class motorsport event, however, the border restrictions that our competitors faced made it an impossible situation.”

The other casualties from the calendar update are the double-header races planned for Tasmania in January, which were originally intended to become rounds of the 2020 title series under one of the earlier revisions to the TCR schedule.

But Braid said that, although he hopes Symmons Plains for January 24-26 and Baskerville on January 30-21 will run, he sees them being part of a 2021 series.

“Given the diminishing options for the back end of the year it makes more sense to push Tassie into 2021.”

According to Braid, and with 2020 in tatters, ARG is already shifting its focus to 2021 and trying to ensure TCR Australia and the supporting classes will race.

It has begun planning for an Easter event for April 2-4, with the 6-Hour production car race as the centrepiece but with a clear opportunity for a TCR component.

He is promising a number of innovations and boost the profile of the event and improve the planned television coverage.

“We can’t wait to showcase a great production car race along with other exciting categories.

“The competitor group is really supportive. They are well aware of what is going on. They know it’s difficult. We’ve been honest with them.

“Being a racing person it hurts not to have anything up in 2020. But if not then we’ll come out with the biggest possible bang in 2021.”