The touring car series is facing what has developed into its greatest challenge of the pandemic so far as both Victoria and New South Wales battle virus outbreaks and lockdowns.
The country’s two biggest cities Melbourne and Sydney are both currently shut down, with case numbers not suggesting a rapid reopening is on the cards.
Victoria recorded 71 new positive cases today, while New South Wales added 818 cases and three deaths to what has become the biggest outbreak Australia has seen, at least in terms of daily numbers.
With six teams based in Victoria and one in New South Wales, and four of the remaining five events meant to take place across those two states, questions are being asked as to how Supercars will complete its 2021 season.
Another five rounds are required to satisfy the broadcast deal, while the Bathurst 1000 – which takes place in regional NSW – is seen as critical to many commercial deals that teams have in place.
At the very least those teams in affected areas may need to be relocated, as was the case during the Melbourne outbreak last year, to ensure racing can then continue in currently unaffected areas such as Queensland and South Australia.
Even the Gold Coast 500 is thought to be in doubt despite Queensland not being in lockdown, given the financial risk building a street circuit at a time when health advice regarding crowds can change so quickly.
But, despite the enormous challenge ahead of it, Supercars says its committed to getting five more rounds completed – including the Bathurst 1000.
“Supercars is committed to delivering the next five rounds of the 2021 Championship and is working with all relevant governments and health departments to ensure this occurs safely,” read a statement provided by the series.
“While Supercars shares the ongoing COVID-19 related frustrations of all Australians, particularly those on the east coast, we are working hard to deliver the remaining races and we once again thank our fans for joining us on this journey.
“We are committed to our 2021 season, including racing at our premier event, the Repco Bathurst 1000.”
As it stands, the season is set to resume at Winton on the first weekend of October.
That is followed by the MotoGP replacement event at Phillip Island on October 23-24, before the Bathurst 1000 on the first weekend of November.
The Sydney SuperNight and Gold Coast 500 are then set to round out the season on November 19-21 and December 3-5 respectively.
Speaking to Motorsport.com last week, Tickford Racing CEO and Supercars Commission member Tim Edwards said getting the season finished was possible, although he hinted at potential changes to the existing schedule.
“We demonstrated last year that we can navigate some pretty challenging circumstances,” he said.
“Everyone is committed to making that happen. Will it be as published at the moment? No idea. Your guess is as good as mine.
“We’re fortunate that we’ve got another six or seven weeks before the first of those events.
“We’ll probably take a deep breath at the end of this month and say okay, how does it look? Then we’ll take another deep breath a couple of weeks later and as we get closer, if we have to make changes, I’m sure we will – much like we did last year.
“But there’s a commitment from everybody to make sure that we deliver the championship.”