News Mark WalkerMark Walker May 30, 2020 (Comments off) (155)

THE DOLLARS AND CENTS OF A 2020 RETURN

TALKING to the On the Grid podcast, Matt Braid, the CEO of the Australian Racing Group, unpacked some of the issues facing competitors with a revamped 2020 calendar in light of a Covid-19 world.

WORDS & IMAGES: Mark Walker

With classes such as TCR, S5000, Trans Am and TCM coming under the wing of the ARG, there is a diverse competitor base, each with their own unique expectations of a re-arranged 2020 schedule.

“It’s been a very tough environment for a lot of competitors and teams, and it’s likely to be a tough environment going forward for quite some time, quite clearly post-Covid as well,” said Braid.

“So we have been in regular contact with our competitors through our category management team, and at a personal level too, asking them how they are placed, how they are personally, what’s the likelihood of going racing again, do they want to go racing.

“I think everyone has wanted to go racing, the unanimous question has been ‘how quick can we get back?’

“No-one has said let’s not go racing, let’s pause.

“There are going to be teams under commercial pressure going into the back half of the year, but at this stage I think the majority that we are talking to are in a pretty good position, or they are confident they can restructure things to do the majority, if not all of the rounds that we’ve got for each category.

“When you look at TCR, Trans AM, S5000, V8 Touring Cars and TCM, they are all relatively cost effective for what they are.

“So I think we are in a good position there, we’re not chasing million dollar budgets, and I think there will be scope that there is a bit of flexibility, that even in these tough times, that teams will be able to piece together some pretty good deals to keep racing through the year.

“We’ve had various communications and Zoom meetings with all of our categories and teams to talk about cost savings measures.

“So yes, there are some measures we have put in place, and even to the point of going to six rounds, we could have gone further, but we’ve decided to keep it to six rounds. Some categories will do six, others will do five of the remaining events.

“Tyre allocations, travel, all of those things we’ve very consciously looked at to see if we can actually save teams money.

“There’s no silver bullet, but $500 here and a $1000 there, we know makes a big difference on a race weekend.”

Also discussed was the juggle involved in rescheduling the program, with some dates already locked and loaded, with other events having to fall into place on the timeline, alongside all of the health and local border closure issues.

“Motorsport Australia as the governing body of motorsport in our country do a fantastic job, they have taken the lead on a lot of this as we deal with the discussions with the restrictions from governments and the various health bodies,” said Braid.

“So they have been fantastic to work with in the period of time, we have effectively taken their lead, and worked with them on the events.

“Track availability is always an issue, are there going to be border restrictions, what is the right time to start, all those things get tossed around.

“It’s fair to say we started with plans A, B and C, and I think this one we have ended up on is G or H… you go through multiple iterations, balancing various factors.

“The calendar we’ve come up with, we’re really pleased with it, we’re quite confident in it, given the timing, it’s all doable and all achievable, and particularly from our competitor group and our fans, ideally we won’t have to change anything, it’s pretty well set, as far as restrictions and border control are concerned.”

The deep diving interview also covered the ARG’s deal with the Seven Network, the ARG eSports Cup, heading to a new market in Hobart for the Baskerville event, as well as the implications on the Bathurst International and Bathurst 6 Hour events.

Catch the whole episode, with all of the week’s news, as well as a classic chat with Cam McConville through your favourite podcast app, or the player below.

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