As world sports leagues prepare for wholesale changes to their 2020 schedules amid COVID-19-induced delays, Supercars is aiming to have “minimum disruption” to this season’s remaining scheduled events.
Last week, Supercars announced the postponement of the Tasmania, New Zealand and Perth events in response to virus containment measures made by state and federal governments.
As it stands, the next event on the 2020 calendar is the Winton Super400 across June 5-7. From there, it may get tricky considering the fluidity of the virus outbreak – the Townsville 400, which will require a planned street circuit build, is scheduled be held across June 26-28.
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Formula 1 has already moved on two upcoming street events, with Monaco (May 22-24) cancelled and Azerbaijan (June 5-7) postponed. The Australian Grand Prix, held on Melbourne’s Albert Park streets, was cancelled mid-event.
With some states closing their borders and others tightening containment and prevention measures, the three postponed events may not be alone further down the line.
Once the Albert Park weekend was cancelled, Supercars immediately revealed plans of rescheduling an event in its place, still firm in the belief the category will hold 14 events in 2020. Prior to more strict measures, Supercars – with fans the “priority” – had no plans to run events behind closed doors.
After stating the category was prepared to “adapt” its calendar, Supercars CEO Sean Seamer suggested in a Q&A video that Phillip Island – which was initially left off the 2020 calendar – could make a return, but admitted it was “too early” to speculate which tracks may return, and when.
However, at the time of Phillip Island’s axing when the 2020 calendar was revealed last year, Seamer didn’t rule out Supercars making a return to the sweeping Victorian Grand Prix circuit at some point in the future.
“We’re obviously talking to the management of all the race tracks in Australia as part of the calendar changes that we’re making,” Seamer said.
“That includes discussions with Phillip Island, but it would be too early to speculate exactly which tracks would be in as part of the rescheduled calendar.”
With Adelaide completed, Albert Park cancelled and Tasmania, New Zealand and Perth postponed, there are nine race weekends still remaining in their current slots. Three year-end marquee events – the Bathurst 1000, Gold Coast 600 and Newcastle 500 – will all require street circuit-type attention, just like Townsville.
Darwin (July 17-19), Sydney Motorsport Park (August 28-30), The Bend Motorsport Park (September 18-20) and Sandown (November 20-22) are all permanent facilities and could possibly be reshuffled without too much disruption.
Supercars also has the luxury of moving events around in its existing six-week break which was centred on the Summer Olympics, which is set to be postponed to 2021.
Seamer wasn’t keen on moving the marquee events from their slots, but despite the moving feast that is the virus, said fans “can expect an updated calendar in a couple of weeks”.
“Our priority is to have minimum disruption to any events that haven’t been postponed,” Seamer explained.
“What we’re looking to do is find a new date for the events that have been postponed, without having to change any of the other plans for the back half of the year.
“Because we’re conscious that our fans, our partners and our volunteers have already made plans around those dates… key events like Bathurst, Gold Coast, Newcastle require significant set-up times.
“Our ambition is to minimise any disruption to those key events and not move those dates.”