News 24 Jun 2020

Victorian coronavirus spike could jeopardise ASBK restart

Final decision to be made by Motorcycling Australia at beginning of July.

Image: Russell Colvin.

Motorcycling Australia (MA) is closely monitoring the current coronavirus spike in Victoria, set to decide at the beginning of next month if the Mi-Bike Australian Superbike Championship (ASBK) will be able to resume at Phillip Island in July as scheduled.

Cases of COVID-19 have risen in double-digits for eight consecutive days in Victoria, including an additional 20 new cases recorded overnight – many of which are locally transmitted. The state has recorded 128 new cases in the past week.

It was announced last Wednesday that the ASBK would be resuming at the world-famous Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit without spectators next month for round two of the reduced six-round season, which could now be jeopardised as this newest outbreak causes new concerns in Victoria.

Multiple local government areas have been designated as hotspots within Victoria, however, the Bass Coast Shire is not currently being regarded as such. That is a factor that could ultimately enable the event to go ahead as planned by the ASBK Management Team with COVID-safe protocols implemented.

“We continue to monitor at the moment the situation going on in Victoria,” ASBK sporting director Simon Maas explained during a virtual media call earlier today. “For now, our latest correspondence as of Monday with the Victorian government was that they were comfortable that our event would still go ahead and we should continue to plan.

“But, we will monitor this on a day-by-day basis and then on the 1st of July we will correspond further to our teams and riders to let them know what our final position is. Fortunately, the Phillip Island location geographically is not a hotspot in terms of the areas identified in Victoria at the moment.

“That still allows our teams and riders to attend Phillip Island and conduct our race, but it is something that we are going to continue to monitor. If the identification of a hotspot becomes to the Bass Coast Shire or Phillip Island, absolutely that would be a huge problem.

“The whole topic is very complex, but lets be mindful that we’ve still got over four weeks or thereabouts between now and then to see what happens with contact tracing and the work of the Victorian health department to see where the numbers ultimately head.

“We’ve drawn a line in the sand for July 1st. We’re going to continue to review and if we get to July 1st and think that it’s just impractical or difficult for the championship to run successfully, that’s when we will consider what we do as a plan B.”

Both rounds two and three of the updated 2020 ASBK calendar are scheduled to be hosted in Victoria, including Phillip Island on 25-26 July and the third round to be staged at Winton Motor Raceway in central Victoria between 11-13 September. Discussions to have fans be able to attend Winton are ongoing, to be determined by 1 September.

“Winton is an enormous outdoor area and does actually create quite a relevant environment for safety,” Maas said. “There are concepts that we’ve discussed already. We’ve spoken about people coming in and doing a park and view concept, where they can park their cars and watch almost like a movie theatre type format.

“We think that Winton also provides a number of sector areas within the race-track, where they can be zoned off if necessary. So, we remain quite optimistic that by September, not withstanding any further changes or developments, that we should be able to welcome the fans back.”

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