Supercars facing post-Townsville dilemma

Supercars facing post-Townsville dilemma

Supercars is facing a post-Townsville dilemma in terms of completing the 2020 season – does it treat time as its friend or its enemy.

With the early revisions of the 2020 schedule thrown out the window by the unexpected COVID-19 outbreak in Melbourne, the Aussie series is now effectively on the run.

The five teams from the Victorian capital have already fled their home state and are now working out of south-east Queensland, via Sydney.

That's opened the door for an extended northern swing. By next Monday a two-week cooling off period from the Greater Sydney area – which is also on a coronavirus knife-edge – will be over, and teams will be free to leave Queensland and enter the Northern Territory.

A double-header at Hidden Valley on there August 8-9 and 15-16 is already locked in, and understands another double-header in Townsville, on the August 29-30 and September 5-6 weekends was green lit at yesterday's Commission meeting.

It's what comes next that poses the dilemma.

As it stands – and keep in mind this is a rapidly-changing picture – it seems the two options are to either rush or wait.

A rush approach would include keeping the Victorian teams on the road, packing in as much racing as possible in September and October, and finishing the season with either the Bathurst 1000 or a Sydney night race shortly after it.

It means the Victorian staff would be on the road for a long time, but the pay-off would be a clear end date and promise of a nice, long break before the circus resumes in Adelaide next February.

Strenuous, yes, but it's a solution that possibly poses the least risk. Rumours of a trip to Queensland Raceway have resurfaced in the recent days, with talk of a fourth-straight double-header.

The concept won't be confirmed or denied by Supercars, but it makes sense. If the season was then stopped after Bathurst there would have been 11 rounds, surely enough to crown a champion and satisfy TV requirements.

It's not the national footprint that Supercars proudly boasts in more normal times, but it's better than nothing.

The other option is to put some faith in the dropping numbers in Melbourne (new cases were at a record 532 on Monday, but are back to 295 today) and hope that we're swiftly back to where we were at the start of June – things almost back to normal.

As recently as last week the plan from Supercars HQ was to have the Melbourne teams home after Townsville. Assuming Sandown doesn't go ahead, that would allow time from anyone from Melbourne to complete the required quarantine in New South Wales, should the border between the two states still be closed.

But that doesn't change the fact that Western Australia and Tasmania, both pencilled in for November, are largely still closed off to the rest of Australia. And the Victorian outbreak has undoubtedly left state premiers on edge and set back border openings.

Things are changing quickly in this pandemic, but as it stands it's a heck of a gamble to rely on those borders being open.

Supercars will in the coming days and weeks need to decide whether the national footprint and remaining marquee events – namely the Bathurst 1000 and the big finale under lights in Sydney – are worth that gamble.

Or is the best way forward to try and keep the Victorian road show alive long enough to get to mid-October.

What a time to be a decision-maker.

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Series Supercars
Author Andrew van Leeuwen