Two-day race weekends could be on the cards as the Supercars season waits until a possible July restart amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Events in Tasmania, New Zealand and Perth were postponed in response to the coronavirus outbreak, with the next scheduled event at Winton in early June.
In the interim, Supercars has locked in an All Stars Eseries which will feature the category’s championship drivers racing each other online.
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However, the fluidity of the ongoing virus crisis will continue to raise question marks on when sports leagues can safely resume – and the longer the uncertainty continues, the greater the financial headaches will become for leagues and teams.
Supercars is still committed to running a 14-event schedule, even if it means racing into 2021. One event – the Adelaide season opener – has been completed, before health concerns cancelled the next event at Albert Park after just one day of running.
Government restrictions – including border closures – saw Supercars forced to abandon any hopes of running TV-only events, but the ambition remains to resume the series as early as possible when it’s safe to do so.
Fox Sports expert commentator Mark Skaife believes a full 14-event schedule can still be completed if the series has to wait longer than the expected June resumption – although the five-time series champion says the 2020 calendar may need to be tweaked.
Skaife suggested two-day weekends, an idea already floated by Formula 1, could help the category in its bid to squeeze in a championship season.
“I’d like to see us kick off before [Bathurst], there’s a lot of rumour around all sports about how the time works, and when we can get back to having more than 500 people based on the mass gathering guidelines” Skaife told Fox League Mornings.
“I don’t really know what’s going to happen in terms of our first event [back]. I am thinking late July, early August is the earliest [season start].
“If we do that we can put some local meetings together and run them back-to-back, as two day race meetings.
“I think that will be the smart way to get going.”
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Skaife suggested a tweaked season could run through to early 2021 and lead into next year’s Bathurst 12 Hour, which is typically held on the first weekend of February.
The layoff and a tweaked calendar could also provide Supercars with an opportunity to trial new race weekend formats – from fewer sessions, to different race formats – with a truncated season still a likely possibility.
However, running a season to schedule is one thing – but finances remain a key point of discussion, with teams reliant on events for major income.
The idea of waiting until beyond June will have many teams planning for worst case scenarios, with Erebus Motorsport CEO Barry Ryan telling Fox Sports’ The Loud Pedal podcast that his squad already has plans in place to combat the upcoming challenges.
Skaife is as keen as anyone for the championship season to resume, but admitted the uncertainty of the situation remains a concern.
“Because Supercars promote the 12 Hour in early February, we can run right through Christmas and finish our year off [ahead of] at Bathurst for another special event,” he said.
“There’s a lot to be said for what the sport looks like off the back of it. Some of the things you’ve been wanting to trial, you can probably do.
“As a consequence of that, let’s see what happens… our sport is almost non-seasonal, even giving people their entitlements in terms of holidays and annual leave, for instance, is hard for us anyway.
“Formula 1 is the same, people are saying they’re not going to get going until Canada in the middle of the year, which is extraordinary.
“So much of what’s going on in the industry is unheard of, we’re in uncertain times and we’ve got to get through the end of it together.”