COVID-19 is already throwing the 2022 Supercars calendar into disarray with the opening round already changing from its original Newcastle opener.
New Supercars CEO Shane Howard believed it was a decision that had to be made due to the continuing uncertainty in the New South Wales seaside city.
“Given the continuing evolving and unpredictable COVID situation, it has become too challenging to stage a complex multi-faceted event on the streets of Newcastle for tens of thousands of race fans in March,” Howard said.
“Putting on an event of the scale of Newcastle, in the middle of its CBD, requires an enormous amount of work to ensure it runs to a world-class standard.
“We have been in consultation with the City of Newcastle throughout January and understand that constructing and operating an event of this size during the current COVID period has caused concern in parts of the community.
“As a street circuit built in the heart of the CBD, the event provides enormous economic benefits to the region, and we want to ensure that happens again in 2022. We are working to confirm the rescheduled date as soon as practicable.
“We thank our fans, volunteers, local businesses, Destination NSW, the NSW Office of Sport and City of Newcastle for their ongoing support.
“We fully intend to stage this year’s Repco Newcastle 500 in Supercars’ trademark style, and we are confident that we will be able to successfully do this later in the year.”
Lord Mayor Cr Nuatali Nelmes was supportive of Supercars’ call to postpone the round.
“City of Newcastle staff have been in regular contact with Supercars regarding the local situation,” Nelmes added.
“We all agreed that right now, and regardless of the additional precautions taken to run the Newcastle 500 safely, the community would feel more confident about the race proceeding later in the year.
“The Repco Newcastle 500 has attracted a growing number of visitors from all parts of NSW and throughout Australia and New Zealand. With people still hesitant to travel due to the high number of COVID cases across NSW and the NZ border remaining closed, the right decision was to postpone the race and wait for visitor confidence to rebound over the coming months.”
The 2022 Repco Supercars Championship season begins with the Beaurepaires Sydney SuperNight at Sydney Motorsport Park on 3-4 March.