However, the fluidity of the ongoing virus crisis will continue to raise question marks on when sports leagues can safely resume – and the longer the uncertainty continues, the greater the financial headaches will become for leagues and teams.
Supercars is still committed to running a 14-event schedule, even if it means racing into 2021. One event – the Adelaide season opener – has been completed, before health concerns cancelled the next event at Albert Park after just one day of running.
Government restrictions – including border closures – saw Supercars forced to abandon any hopes of running TV-only events, but the ambition remains to resume the series as early as possible when it’s safe to do so.
Fox Sports expert commentator Mark Skaife believes a full 14-event schedule can still be completed if the series has to wait longer than the expected June resumption – although the five-time series champion says the 2020 calendar may need to be tweaked.
“I’d like to see us kick off before [Bathurst], there’s a lot of rumour around all sports about how the time works, and when we can get back to having more than 500 people based on the mass gathering guidelines” Skaife told Fox League Mornings.
“I don’t really know what’s going to happen in terms of our first event [back]. I am thinking late July, early August is the earliest [season start].
“If we do that we can put some local meetings together and run them back-to-back, as two day race meetings.
“I think that will be the smart way to get going.”
Skaife suggested a tweaked season could run through to early 2021 and lead into next year’s Bathurst 12 Hour, which is typically held on the first weekend of February.
The layoff and a tweaked calendar could also provide Supercars with an opportunity to trial new race weekend formats – from fewer sessions, to different race formats – with a truncated season still a likely possibility.
However, running a season to schedule is one thing – but finances remain a key point of discussion, with teams reliant on events for major income.
“I can’t bring myself to watch myself on TV… I can watch the race if I’m in the car, but as soon as I’m on TV… I hate my voice, I don’t tend to replay interviews.”
When Erebus Motorsport’s doors officially open for a groundbreaking docuseries, star driver David Reynolds could be watching from behind the lounge, or perhaps, not at all.
Still, Reynolds’ key role in helping take the team – which runs under the Penrite Racing banner – to the front of the Supercars grid will be given more light once Inside Line – A Season with Erebus Motorsport premieres on Fox Sports on Tuesday night.
Reynolds and his Holden squad were filmed across the 2019 season, when the fan favourite toiled through a winless season en route to sixth in the standings.
The raging success of the Netflix-distributed Drive to Survive series has helped put Formula 1 on the map as drivers and teams helped portray the drama of motorsport at the highest level. Amazon’s The Test also went places within the Australian men’ s cricket team where few have gone before.
What the Erebus squad proves in Inside Line is how cut-throat Supercars can be, and how important Reynolds – who is into his fifth season with the Melbourne-based team – has been in its upwards trajectory on Supercars results sheets.
The 34-year-old admitted he is “a little bit nervous” to see how the series is perceived by fans, because the eight-part series is an “honest portrayal of our team”.
The team has grown under the watch of Reynolds, who moved to the fledgling squad after he was dropped by Tickford Racing at the end of 2015 despite finishing third in the championship.
Critically, what makes Inside Line important for Reynolds is it demonstrates Erebus as the team it is today, one he helped reach the very top, as well as his development as a driver and a person.
“What made me step up [at Erebus], was that for once, I was the lead driver [at a team],” he told media on Tuesday.
“To have that position in the team makes you take more pride in your job, day in, day out. That’s what’s changed for me, and I think I’ve done a good job so far and I hope I continue to do a good job.
“When I joined that team, results weren’t expected, we struggled to get to every race at the start… in a very short space of time, I saw everyone grow within themselves and become more like adults within the sport.
“We all took steps together to get to the front of the grid.”
Reynolds took one podium – in the final race of the season – in his first year with Erebus in 2016 as he finished 16th in the standings.
In 2017, the team continued to make gains, as did Reynolds – and it bore fruit in the most stunning fashion as Reynolds and Luke Youlden combined for a memorable Bathurst 1000 victory.
From there, Reynolds has finished no lower than seventh in the standings, and has established himself – and the team – as genuine frontrunners. He is committed to the cause, signing an historic 10-year contract extension with Erebus last year.
Getting the team to that point remains Reynolds’ career highlight: “The best thing I’ve done in this sport is not win races, but watch a team grow within itself to become the team they are today. It’s not so much the results I’ve had, it’s the journey I’ve had with everyone.
“Normally when you go up to a big team, you’re expected to win. Ours was different, we weren’t expected to win at the start, and now we’ve evolved into becoming one of the bigger teams, and now we’re expected to do a lot better.
“The pressure grew organically within the team itself.”
Still, despite winning races and being competitive for Tickford was a positive, Reynolds now says he’s “much happier in the car, and I’m much happier out the car” as an Erebus driver.
Inside Line shows Reynolds, depicted by fans and media as Supercars’ class clown, as a leader in many respects, while team owner Betty Klimenko, CEO Barry Ryan and driver Anton De Pasquale also feature among the team’s topsy turvy storyline.
However, Inside Line also highlights a different side to Reynolds, one where he lacks self-belief and puts his results purely down to the team, as stated by Ryan: “For some reason he just doesn’t think he’s as good as he is. If he goes really good and wins races he thinks it’s the car or the team.”
“It was a strange time in my life at the end of ’15, I was winning races with the biggest Ford team in pit lane at the time,” Reynolds said.
“Then to be left at the end of the year without a drive then to join Erebus, it was one of my last options I had on the table. I was half-regretting it at the start… we struggled to get to every race, the people they’d employed were new to Supercars.
“[Barry] has had a massive job in trying to lead everyone and trying get the most out of everyone and put all the plans in place so they can become better mechanics, engineers and what not.
“I take as little credit as I can in the evolution of Erebus, but the driver takes all the glory on the day which is silly, every win or podium I wish I could take the whole team up there.”
The eight-part docuseries is available only on Foxtel (channel 506) and to stream on Kayo Sports, Foxtel Now and Foxtel GO.
Supercars teams are coming together to fight against the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic by producing and distributing potentially life-saving medical supplies.
As of Tuesday, there are over 780,000 cases and 37,000 deaths worldwide due to the coronavirus outbreak. With no racing until at least June, Supercars teams have already moved to combat the crisis, which continues to affect the medical industry.
Erebus Motorsport, which runs under the Penrite Racing banner, has worked alongside Supercars Medical Delegate Dr Carl Le to develop an e-aerosol box, which is now ready for distribution.
20 protective perspex boxes, which were designed – via the the team’s 3D printer – to protect healthcare workers from infected patients, were shipped out to hospitals and health care institutions on Tuesday.
“We want to make sure we are in a better position than overseas, so we are doing all we can to ensure we are ready if and when the worst hits,” Erebus Motorsport CEO Barry Ryan said.
“I sent out an email to Supercars and all its team owners last week and we really appreciate the response of people wanting to jump on board and help where they can.”
Rival squad Team CoolDrive is helping Erebus distribute the supplies, with team owner Tim Blanchard saying: “CoolDrive is an automotive parts distribution business with a network all around Australia so we offered to help… Barry is dropping them off to the main depot and the first lot are going out today to Hobart, Adelaide and Ballarat for doctors to sample.
“We will continue to send them out, starting at the main office in Melbourne then we’ll shift to our 30 branches and we’ll use our 70 vans to distribute from there.
“We’re an Australian family business and we wanted to do something to help Australians and help another Aussie business get this done… working together, helping each other out, is what it’s all about.”
A second prototype design process is already underway, while the team’s final prototype of the ‘e-mask’ has also been completed, with 300 units near completion.
Regarding the e-masks, Ryan said: “Rather than developing something complicated, these cost-effective masks with a 3D printed adaptor and easily replaceable P2/N95 filtration, can be mass produced and go straight away to health care workers on the front line – who are at high risk.
Ryan was delighted that rival teams are getting involved and responding to Erebus’ call to action.
“We really want to get it out there so we can get the maximum support, so I’ve just sent an email to all of the team owners and obviously they have all started replying with ‘yeah we can do this, we can help with this’,” he said.
“I’m sure our community of Supercars teams, their network of their sponsorship groups and all of their partners will be able to help with anything we want pretty much.
“The next couple of days are going to pretty exciting to get this off the ground and make sure we can deliver all these things if they’re needed.”
Walkinshaw Andretti United director Ryan Walkinshaw has also offered his team’s engineering expertise to develop and produce supplies.
“To help emergency departments treat patients affected by COVID-19, we have raised our hand to help both Federal and Victorian governments to design, engineer and assemble any emergency medical equipment that [can] be made with a 3D printer,” Walkinshaw said.
“We would need the blueprints to the design of these ventilators, but we can help once we have the right information.”
Factory Holden squad Triple Eight Race Engineering revealed it has designed and developed open-source ventilators.
The Triple Eight-designed ventilator – via input from medical professionals, local ICU experts, and the Department of State Development, Infrastructure and Planning in Queensland – may be put into production should relevant interest be fostered.
Ventilators are heavily regulated, and Triple Eight remains open to innovation and further expert guidance to allow for production and distribution.
There has already been success in the motorsport world, with Formula 1 world champions Mercedes creating a breathing aid that can help keep infected patients out of intensive care.
Triple Eight’s design can be used without power for up to two hours in order to combat a “dire situation” where patients are not in a hospital where “power mightn’t be consistent”.
“That means we need a bit of a UPS onboard, so if power drops down it can last for at least two hours until you can get the power back up and running into the machine,” Triple Eight technical director Jeromy Moore said.
Triple Eight team manager Mark Dutton said the team quickly got onto the project, saying they went from starting the design on Friday to having a working prototype on Monday.
Like Ryan, Dutton suggested the aim is to make supplies cost-effective so it’s “out there for everyone”.
“As soon as we got back from the Grand Prix, Roland [Dane, team boss] had the idea to repurpose our resources in design and manufacture, so straightaway he wanted us to start looking into ventilators,” Dutton said.
“The world is screaming out for them, so we started just doing some initial research the week after the Grand Prix and then started the design work on Friday the 20th [of March].
“One week we’re at the race track trying to go fast and then the next thing the whole world is screaming out for ventilators, so you know, stop in your tracks, do a full 180 and do something completely different.”