Why Supercars axed Perth and New Zealand

Freight deadlines, border uncertainty and staffing issues have been blamed for the axing of both the Perth and New Zealand rounds of the 2021 Supercars season.

Why Supercars axed Perth and New Zealand
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The Perth SuperNight and the Auckland SuperSprint have both been left off a heavily-revised second half of the 2021 campaign, as Supercars looks to navigate complications from the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak in Sydney.

It marks the second year running that neither the trip to Western Australia nor the trek across the Tasman have gone ahead.

The two events were scheduled to take place on September 11-12 and November 6-7 respectively.

According to Supercars, a combination of issues with borders, broadcast and staffing concerns and costly freight deadlines are to blame for the events falling off the schedule.

Series CEO Seam Seamer says the trip to Pukekohe was compromised by the recent closure of the trans-Tasman travel bubble by New Zealand authorities due not just to the outbreak in Sydney, but recent COVID issues in Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide as well.

The travel bubble, which allows quarantine-free movement between the neighbouring nations, will be closed for at least the next eight weeks.

Seamer explained that was too close for comfort with a September 1 deadline for committing to air freight to Auckland.

"New Zealand, the challenge for us was that we had a hard go, no-go date when we had to commit to air freight and incur significant costs on the first of September," said Seamer.

"With the announcement from New Zealand that the trans-Tasman border bubble was going to be evaporated for at least another two months, that pushed us past out commitment date on significant costs.

"So while we're extremely disappointed that we can get to New Zealand, we have been speaking to stakeholders there and we intend to get there as early as possible in 2022."

There have already been rumours that Supercars may look to compensate for the two-year absence across the ditch with a double-header early next season, something Seamer isn't ruling out.

"There's certainly ongoing discussions and interest around a double-header in New Zealand, and we will pursue those conversations as we develop the 2022 calendar," he added.

Borders was an issue for the trip to Perth as well, with Western Australia having used its isolation as a weapon against the virus throughout the pandemic. It has consistently shut itself off from other states as soon as there are positive cases in the community, with the entire eastern seaboard currently closed to the west.

That is likely to change in the coming weeks, though, thanks to positive trends in both Victoria and Queensland.

A document sent by Supercars to teams and suppliers about the calendar changes referenced that the Perth event had been removed due to "risk around the interstate borders".

But Seamer played down the border issue in WA when speaking to media about the calendar, instead citing problems with facilitating the broadcast during September, which is a busy month in Aussie sport due to the AFL and NRL finals.

"The issue for Perth is slightly different in that it was highly likely that the teams from Victoria and Queensland would be able to travel to Western Australia," said Seamer.

"But September is an extremely active month for sport in Australia. And a significant amount of our broadcast capability, both technical and from a talent point of view, are based in New South Wales and have a lot of commitments on the eastern seaboard in September.

"So for those reasons we've decided to postpone Perth.

"Again, in the conversations we've had with stakeholders in Western Australia they are very keen for us to get over there as soon as possible. So I think you can expect Perth to return to its more traditional date early in the year in 2022."

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