Yet another event has bitten the dust because of the rapid escalation of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Speedworks Motorsport New Zealand Championship event scheduled for March 27-29 at Hampton Downs, has been postponed.

With so much relying on sponsorship, the motorsport is already looking for ways to continue with or without the crowds.

Internationally Formula One is likely to run without spectators at the Bahrain Grand Prix, but it too was cancelled because of the escalating Covid-19 situation.


"The TV rights are so important in all sport," Jordie Peters of Motorsport New Zealand said.

"We saw the Black Caps play in an empty stadium so maintaining those TV rights... is massive for the financial side of sport."

Then there's the sponsorship.

"You sell it as a form of advertising. It's a moving billboard that's travelling at 100 and something miles an hour through corners in front of massive crowds on TV."

But with most of the major events in the series already completed, Motorsport NZ says for it, it could be much worse.

"We've been pretty lucky. A lot of our events, especially at the club level, can run within the Government guidelines and we ourselves have set out a policy around that which is based on the Government guidelines around the 500 people limits [outside]. At the moment we've only had just under half a dozen events cancelled."

Speedworks Events and Motorsport New Zealand postponed the final round of the championship's series which was set to take place in a couple of weeks at Hampton Downs. Discussions are already under way to find a date later in the year.

Because it was only New Zealand-based drivers set to race at Hampton Downs, the postponed event isn't affected by international travel restrictions. But for individual drivers the scene is very different now than it was at Manfeild only a fortnight ago.

Ronan Murphy said part of the point of coming out to Manfeild for him was to build relationships.


"It is an expensive sport, something where money is a big factor," he said. "So you need to have as much support as you can possibly get. I'm here just to talk to everybody, keep in the loop and make a few contacts along the way, talk to potential sponsors."

NZ based driver Alexandra Whitley had planned to crisscross the Tasman, having scored sponsorship to race in the now-cancelled Australian Grand Prix.

"One series starts and finishes as the next one starts so you just go backwards and forwards getting as much seat time as you move out through the ranks," she said.

For the drivers, these plans are now up in the air with travel restrictions and event cancellations potentially becoming career game changers because sponsorship is so important.

"Alexandra Whitley getting that deal with Haier Appliances and not being able to race the Grand Prix is incredibly disappointing," Peters said. "Not only because she doesn't get to race, but she doesn't get to really get a good start to that relationship with that company which could be pivotal pushing her career a lot further than it's already gone."

NZ Red Bull driver and Formula One hopeful Liam Lawson also looks set to come home after the Vietnam and Bahrain Grand Prix were both cancelled.


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