Melbourne Supercars teams begin exodus

The exodus of Melbourne-based Supercars teams across the Victorian border has begun to ensure the Darwin round will go ahead as planned.

The six Melbourne based teams are being forced out of their home state due to an ongoing outbreak of COVID-19 cases.

The first two cases were detected last Monday, with numbers having now gone north of 50 as the outbreak continues to spread.

Victoria is on the fourth day of a seven-day lockdown, while all other states have now blocked free passage for Victorians.

The outbreak already led to the cancellation of last weekend's Winton SuperSprint, with Supercars now being forced to get its Melbourne-based teams out of the state if it wants the Darwin Triple Crown to go ahead in mid-June as planned.

The affected teams were told over the weekend to prepare to cross the Victorian/New South Wales border by this Wednesday at the latest.

As first reported by Motorsport.com the teams did look at leaving Melbourne late last week, before deciding to stay put until this week

NSW has the loosest border rules, Victorians only needing to observe the same lockdown protocols as per their home state, rather than go into supervised quarantine as is the case for the Northern Territory.

After two weeks in NSW the Victorian teams will be free to travel into the NT, which will narrowly give them time to get to Darwin in time for the June 18-20 event.

A number of the Melbourne teams confirmed to Motorsport.com that transporters have already hit the road, with remaining team personnel set to cross the border on Wednesday to limit the time away from home.

While there has been some hesitance from the affected teams, sources indicating Erebus was the most vocal opponent to the plan, Supercars has promised the teams they will be returning after Darwin and there won't be a repeat of the 100-plus day road trip from last year.

"It’s very important that we protect the Darwin round," said Supercars COO Shane Howard.

"Our teams are organising themselves to move to be compliant with the health regulations to enter the Northern Territory. They’re all geared up for that move.

"The teams will be able to enter New South Wales. They will go and serve the same lockdown period as applied in Victoria. That’s what they’ll undertake.

"Obviously last year the teams packed up within six hours notice and didn’t come back home for [100-plus] days. I think people would be very hesitant to embark on that sort of time away from their families.

"That won’t be the case with this situation. We’ll ensure that the teams will be back with their families after Darwin."

Where the teams will stay in NSW is not yet certain.

"We’re working with the teams on different options for accommodation," added Howard. "That’s a work in progress and [we're] working with the individual teams."

Blanchard Racing Team, Kelly Grove Racing, Team 18, Tickford Racing, Walkinshaw Andretti United and Erebus Motorsport are all based in Melbourne.

The New South Wales and Queensland teams, namely Brad Jones Racing, Triple Eight Race Engineering, Dick Johnson Racing, Matt Stone Racing and Team Sydney will all be able to enter the NT without restriction, barring further outbreaks.

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