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Supercars working on direct Bathurst flights amid COVID disruption

Supercars is working on a boost in direct flights in an out of Bathurst over the Great Race weekend so teams and fans don't need to travel through Sydney.

Shane van Gisbergen, Triple Eight Race Engineering leads at the start

Shane van Gisbergen, Triple Eight Race Engineering leads at the start

Edge Photographics

The Aussie series confirmed last week that the Bathurst 1000 will be postponed by a month, the early October date making way for November 4-7.

That's in response to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak in Sydney, the New South Wales capital recording 207 new positive cases in the last 24 hours.

It's hoped the four-week delay to the race will give the Sydney situation time to improve and therefore open the door for events in NSW, particularly those outside of the Greater Sydney area, to be able to welcome crowds.

Bathurst is located roughly 200 kilometres west of Sydney.

However Supercars is relying on time alone, with a campaign already underway to boost the number of flights arriving from other parts of the country directly to and from Bathurst.

That would potentially help fans attend the Great Race even if Sydney is still affected by the outbreak.

As it stands most states have closed their borders to NSW, however a staggered opening that opens up regional NSW and leaves Sydney as a hot spot is feasible in the coming weeks and months.

Bathurst Regional Airport generally services several daily flights to and from Sydney.

"With Bathurst, the decision was purely about giving ourselves as much time as possible for things to improve [in New South Wales], and delivering an experience in New South Wales that is as close to the best Bathurst 1000 that it can possibly be," explained Supercars CEO Sean Seamer.

"With Bathurst it's not just about the New South Wales attendees. A significant amount of people that go to Bathurst, upwards of 50 per cent, are interstate and trans-Tasman.

"So we are working on options to get as many flights directly in and out of Bathurst for both our people, but also fans, so that they don't need to travel through metropolitan Sydney in order to attend that event – should things in Sydney not improve by that point in time."

Seamer added that the series will continue planning the event for a capacity crowd, despite the very real threat of their being a cap on numbers allowed through the gate.

"Right now we are planning to conduct the event as normal, but we will continue to work with the health department in NSW," he said.

"If we need to evolve the event we'll make sure we communicate those with everybody on the way through.

"What we have done by moving that date back a month is given ourselves the best possible chance to deliver the best possible Bathurst."

Having an option to avoid Sydney is in line with the philosophy used by Supercars as it has re-jigged the back end of its 2021 schedule. The idea is to avoid metropolitan areas, with regional Victoria set to host the next two rounds (Winton and Phillip Island) followed by regional NSW (Bathurst).

Sydney Motorsport Park and the Gold Coast 500 will then mark a return to major cities in late November and early December respectively.

As well as Sydney, south east Queensland is currently facing an outbreak of the virus that has seen the region plunged into a lockdown that will last until next weekend.

That means four Supercars teams, namely Triple Eight, Dick Johnson Racing, Team Sydney and Matt Stone Racing, are currently in lockdown.

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