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Winton planning significant circuit changes

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Winton planning significant circuit changes
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Significant changes could be made to the Winton Motor Raceway layout as part of a staged development plan.

The Benalla Auto Club, which operates the long-standing Aussie circuit, has a raft of potential changes in the works, all centred around a new pit facility.

That wouldn't necessarily mean simply updating the existing garages, which were built as part of a one-kilometre circuit extension back in 1997.

According to Winton boss Jeff Grech the pit facility could be moved elsewhere as part of a wider re-design of the circuit, including more hard stops to better facilitate overtaking.

"[A new pit building] could incorporate more changes to the circuit, because we are looking at a new location for the pit building and to have, like other tracks, corporate facilities on top of the pit building," Grech told the Parked Up podcast.

"And good changes, if we can, where we can put a couple of fast corners with heavy braking to make it a bit more challenging for drivers and allow a bit of passing.

"All of that is on the table with our development plans. It's just a matter of, at the moment we'll just see how the world comes out of this COVID-19 pandemic, and then we'll see where we can fit in short, medium and long-term parts of that development.

"Our mission is the future-proof the facility for the region for the next 50 years. Next year Winton passes its 60th year of being in business, so I'd like to think we can make another 60 years. [We can] modernise a lot of it and keep big and good events coming to the place."

Other changes being considered are improvements to camping areas and building "car condominiums" to help the circuit provide an increased tourism return to the region.

"We're looking at we call car condos,." added Grech. "Over in America they've become a big thing now, and Hampton Downs in New Zealand has got them.

"We want to be able to have a premium car condominium, and more of a second-tier private garage where families can leave their vehicles here and enjoy staying here on site. So the car condominium is a big thing we're looking at, and we've got a site marked out for where that will sit on the property."

Winton has already kick-started improvements, with changes to the kerbing around Turns 3 and 4 completed shortly before racing was stopped due to the coronavirus pandemic.

As for a timeline for these more significant changes, Grech says a five-year period is preferred but that the current economic climate might change things.

"The committee would love to have looked at a timeline from now to year five, if we could, to have it complete," he said.

"But the world at the moment is a changing place, and with that change will come changes to motorsport, I would imagine. It's a bit of a wait and see at the minute."

Winton will host the third round of the revised 2020 Supercars season on July 18-19.

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Series Supercars
Author Andrew van Leeuwen