As the 2020 Virgin Australia Supercars championship got back underway at the end of June at Sydney Motorsport Park, we thought that we were over the ‘Covid-19 lock-down hump’ and some sense of normality would prevail, which it did. Now well into 2021, the situation is no better and as of tonight, NZ will shut the ‘trans-Tasman door’ for the next eight weeks, seriously putting in doubt whether the ITM Auckland SuperSprint will now go ahead. How the rest of the Supercars season unfolds is a lottery.
The 2020 series had already run the last Adelaide 500 event while the Melbourne 400 was shut down with the cancellation of the 2020 Australian Formula One Grand Prix. Everything had effectively been on hold for over three months.
Supercars, and particularly the Melbourne based teams, then went on the road staying away from Australian Covid-19 hotspots and managed to successfully complete a 2020 season with the finale at the Bathurst 1000 in October.
Heading into 2021, optimism prevailed with closed borders and the pandemic seemingly managed, including a travel bubble opening up with New Zealand.
Now, with lock-downs currently happening in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, it’s become a bit of a lottery on how the rest of the season will unfold. Luckily, we have seven rounds completed.
Now the Sydney Motorsport Park event is ‘postponed’, a tentative round at the Queensland Raceway is being discussed (21-22 August) and it is all just up in the air.
The complication, for the remainder of the season, may well be the impact of closed State borders within Australia. Currently Queensland has closed its border to NSW for the next four-weeks, which in turn will impact on travel for teams based in Victoria and NSW, should the Queensland round go ahead.
Then there is the complication, and importance, of the Bathurst 1000. What happens within the next four weeks, and the ability of authorities to control the various lockdowns and resulting Covid cases, may see the pivotal event moved to later in the year.
Also at stake, is the New Zealand round set to go at Pukekohe Park Raceway 6-7 November. Not only do we have the state of the travel-bubble to consider, but also from which port cars and teams embark from, in Australia, to Auckland.
There are too many scenarios that could or may take place. Much will depend on how the current Australian Covid-19 outbreaks are contained and controlled over the next few weeks.
One would think that Kiwi fans would be best to postpone their Bathurst trip for another 12 months, and if you live outside of Auckland, maybe put on hold your travel and accommodation arrangements until there is more certainty around the ITM Auckland SuperSprint in November.
The positives heading into 2022 will be that, hopefully, both Australia and New Zealand would have vaccinated most of their population and obtained some sort of herd-immunity. That’s if there isn’t another ‘Delta’ variant up and running.