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Critical 24 hours for Winton Supercars event

Supercars and its teams face a nervous 24 hours as Melbourne teeters on the verge of lockdown due to a growing COVID-19 cluster.

Scott McLaughlin, DJR Team Penske Ford

Scott McLaughlin, DJR Team Penske Ford

Dirk Klynsmith / Motorsport Images

The Aussie series is set to race at Winton in northern Victoria this weekend, however the Melbourne outbreak has cast significant doubt over the event.

As it stands there are no restrictions that impact Winton, with the measures limited to mandatory mask wearing indoors and limits on private gatherings.

Sporting events in Melbourne can, based on the current advice, have crowds as long as spectators are wearing masks.

However with the cluster quickly growing, a further five cases late yesterday pushing the total out to 15, there is no guarantee the restrictions won't change quickly and drastically.

Acting Victorian premier James Merlino today wouldn't rule out a lockdown.

"The next 24 hours will be critical," he said. "We are not going to foreshadow what those changes may or may not be. It will be dependent on what happens over the next 24 hours and advice from the public health team."

Based on the current situation the Winton SuperSprint is going ahead, circuit owner and operator the Benalla Auto Club confirming as much on its Facebook page earlier today.

"Our advice this morning from the Victorian Government Regional Events Team is that the Winton SuperSprint can proceed as normal as a Tier 1-approved public event," read the post.

"The restrictions announced for Melbourne yesterday apply to public gatherings, which is different to a public event.

"Once inside the Winton Raceway precinct, our approved COVID plan is in effect with QR codes and tracing data available should it be required."

But that too may change.

Should there be a statewide lockdown, a real possibility now exposure sites from outside Greater Melbourne have been discovered, the event would likely not go ahead.

Even a lockdown for Greater Melbourne would be problematic as six teams are based in the state capital and may not be able to cross the regional borders to get to Benalla.

The Queensland and New South Wales teams are also directly affected by the threat of border measures in their home states.

Queensland Health has already declared the City of Whittlesea a hot spot and anybody entering the state has to go into hotel quarantine for two weeks.

There is no guarantee that won't be extended to all of Victoria if the cluster continues to grow, which could leave team staff and drivers unable to return home.

Motorsport.com understands that Queensland teams are deferring their travel south to see how the situation develops.

New South Wales is also on edge with two close contacts from the Melbourne cluster known to have crossed the border. However the only border restriction is for anybody who has been to an exposure site to isolate on arrival.

Supercars isn't on track until Saturday, which means teams could bump in as late as Friday. But the support categories, including Super2 and Super3, SuperUtes, and Toyota 86s, are on track Friday – which means interstate teams will need to be on the road today.

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