Victoria’s Supercars teams will be forced to flee the state on Wednesday to ensure another round of the V8 series is not compromised by the state’s latest Covid outbreak.
Following the postponement of last weekend’s Winton event after the state was plunged into lockdown, the series’ six Victorian-based teams will have to cross the border into New South Wales to ensure the next round in Darwin in mid-June can proceed.
The Northern Territory’s border restrictions stipulate travellers from Greater Melbourne must enter supervised quarantine for 14 days.
But NSW has the least restrictive border rules, with Victorians required to observe the same lockdown conditions as in their own state.
Once the teams have spent the two weeks in NSW, they will be able to cross into the NT just days ahead of the June 18-20 Darwin Triple Crown.
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“In response to the continuing Covid-19 situation in Victoria … all Victorian teams will need to depart Victoria this Wednesday (June 2) in order to complete a mandatory quarantine period in NSW before the upcoming event in the Northern Territory,” Supercars said.
“Team personnel would need to be in NSW by midnight on Wednesday in order for 14 days to elapse before entry into the Northern Territory.”
Victorian teams were last year forced to spend more than three months on the road to ensure Supercars was able to complete the 2020 championship in a Covid-ravaged year.
But Supercars has told the Victorian teams there is “no expectation” they will be travelling beyond the Darwin event and will be able to return home after the NT round.
Erebus Motorsport team owner Betty Klimenko expressed her reservations about her squad being forced to hit the road again, saying the only reason she agreed to do so for Darwin was with an assurance everyone would be home straight after the event.
“Last year I … made a promise that my team would not go through what they went through in 2020,” Klimenko wrote in a social media post.
“I love my sport but there is a duty of care that comes from having a team with you.
“The only reason I and (team principal) Barry (Ryan) agreed to Darwin is that we were promised that it is a one-time thing and everyone will go home straight after.
“I know the sport is important and that we all do whatever we can to get out there, and Erebus will, but not at the cost of the team.”
Walkinshaw Andretti United, Erebus Motorsport, Kelly Grove Racing, Team 18, Tickford Racing and Blanchard Racing are all based in Melbourne.
Supercars make huge Covid call
Supercars has been forced to postpone this weekend’s round at Winton due to Victoria’s escalating Covid crisis.
The series was due to head to the country Victorian circuit near Benalla for the fifth round of the championship, but the state’s looming lockdown has put the round on hold.
Victoria will be plunged into a seven-day lockdown from midnight on Thursday.
Supercars hopes to reschedule the round at Winton for July 31 to August 1, which it will confirm in the next week.
“While regrettable, today’s decision has been made to ensure the health and safety of all Supercars fans, staff and teams,” Supercars said in a statement.
The next round of the Supercars championship is the Darwin Triple Crown at Hidden Valley Raceway in mid-June.
Commodores won the opening eight races of the season, six of those by Triple Eight star Shane van Gisbergen, who owns a 190-point lead in the championship over his teammate Jamie Whincup.
But Ford hit back in South Australia with wins to Andre Heimgartner, Anton De Pasquale and Cameron Waters.
It is the second time this year Supercars has been forced to postpone a round due to a Covid outbreak.
The round at Symmons Plains in Tasmania was also pushed back a week after the cluster in Brisbane in late March.
Supercars’ 2020 championship was reduced to 11 rounds due to the Covid-ravaged year.