Motorsport Australia president Andrew Papadopoulos is hopeful that his organization’s strategy to resume competition in the country amid the coronavirus pandemic will become the blueprint used internationally for motorsport’s return .
The Australian motorsport governing body’s ‘Return to Race’ document was published today and it offers guidelines, guidance and a framework for getting motorsport up and running again the in the wake of the pandemic.
Sport is slowly returning in Australia, with a three-step plan – the Australian Institute of Sport Framework for Rebooting Sport in a COVID-19 Environment – coming off the back of a National Cabinet update last week.
At the time of writing, Australia had suffered 97 deaths from coronavirus.
Papadopoulos, who has supplied the Return to Race document to the FIA as well as to the country’s Federal, state and territory governments, said: “Australian motorsport is a world leader and this document once again highlights Motorsport Australia’s leadership and ability to set a precedent for other countries to follow.
“Motorsport Australia is determined to see motorsport up and running in the short term and we are excited about the prospect of its return in a safe, healthy and responsible manner.”
While much of the document focuses on circuit racing, it also says that rallying and off-road racing “may commence but will be the subject of a specific plan developed by Motorsport Australia and the National Medical Committee to ensure the safety of the driver and co-driver whilst social distancing measures remain”.
Motorsport Australia CEO Eugene Arocca added: “Motorsport is unlike any other sport. We certainly believe it’s a low-risk sport when it comes to any potential transmission of COVID-19 given that motorsport is conducted outdoors, usually on a large site area.
“However, that doesn’t mean we can just go back to running events as we previously did. Return to Race clearly outlines all steps our event organizers, officials and competitors should take to make our events as safe as possible based on the framework put forward by the Federal Government.
“This strategy outlines the importance of avoiding gatherings or meetings, instead using technology such as Zoom to host drivers’ briefings, for example. We’re also providing other key steps that event organizers, officials and competitors need to take to ensure everyone’s health and safety, depending on their role.
“While drivers may be ‘cocooned’ in their vehicles when on track or on a stage, there are obviously many other things that need to be considered before an event can go ahead.”
Last November’s World Rally Championship-counting Rally Australia was lost to the bushfires which burned through the summer on much of the eastern coast.
Australia this year has been omitted from the WRC calendar for the first time since 2012, with New Zealand replacing the Coffs Harbor-based event. Any return to Australia is understood to be dependent on finding a new home for the event away from Coffs.