IMSA is working with the Department of Homeland Security to allow its non-US drivers and personnel to gain entry into the country, the sportscar sanctioning body’s president John Doonan says.
The IMSA SportsCar Championship is scheduled to restart on 4 July at Daytona following a lengthy hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic since the season-opening Daytona 24 Hours in January.
Speaking to Autosport in the latest episode of our #ThinkingForward series, Doonan says he’s been hugely encouraged by NASCAR’s smooth transition to restart its series with health screening and social distancing measures, but recognises that IMSA’s international flavour presents an additional hurdle.
Some of IMSA’s leading drivers, key engineers and mechanics come from Europe, and so cannot travel directly to the USA without special dispensation.
“We’re back as a sport, which is thrilling,” said former Mazda boss Doonan (pictured below in 2019) of NASCAR’s return.
“And the other real positive is that we’ve been able to do it with restrictions but in a very controlled and safe manner.
“Outside of the masks and people being very sensitive to social distancing, and several other protocols, it was business as usual.
“The mechanics and teams were doing their work, getting the car prepared, pitstops just the same as it would be and we’re trying to do the same get ready to go here on 4 July at Daytona.
“For us at IMSA, we’ve had an additional bump in the road, because the ‘I’ in IMSA is for ‘International’.
“We have been in touch with Homeland Security, and we’ve had meetings with them in an attempt to allow our overseas drivers and critical personnel, that we need to execute the event, to be able to get into the US.
“We’re encouraged by initial communications with Homeland Security, in allowing our professional athletes and engineers and mechanics to get back into the country.”
Incoming travel for non-US residents from Europe was banned in mid-March, and Brazil was also recently added to that list. Even US residents travelling from Europe are advised to self-quarantine on arrival for 14 days.
Doonan added that he is being guided by the authorities concerning fan access to its events and has tentatively targeted the Road America event in August.
“Each of the states has different mandates,” said Doonan.
“We are hopeful that somewhere around the first of August, there might be an opportunity to compete with fans at our Road America event.
“It’ll be under strict guidelines where folks may be able to drive their car in and park and watch from there, or potentially, some seating arrangements in the grandstands that are separated, but there’s a lot to still investigate.
“As always, in motorsport the number one goal is safety.”
2020 IMSA calendar
25/26 January Daytona 24 Hours
4 July Daytona
18 July Sebring
2 August Road America
23 August Virginia International Raceway (GTLM, GTD only)
6 September Laguna Seca
27 September Mid-Ohio
4 October Watkins Glen
17 October Petit Le Mans
31 October Lime Rock Park (GTLM, GTD only)
14 November Sebring 12 Hours
Published at Tue, 02 Jun 2020 19:21:10 +0000
Formula 1 CEO Chase Carey says teams pulling out because of ill personnel, or even a driver getting infected with coronavirus, will not stop races from going ahead when the season resumes.
F1 has announced its plan for the 2020 season to get underway at the Austrian Grand Prix on 5 July, with an eight-event schedule for the European phase of the season having been announced.
The sport’s chiefs have put together a 90-page dossier of guidelines to ensure that travelling personnel remain safe from the risks of coronavirus when the 2020 season begins.
Learning lessons from the last-minute cancellation of the Australian Grand Prix after a McLaren team member tested positive, F1 has worked to ensure that every eventuality is covered.
Speaking to the official F1 website, Carey was clear that procedures were now in place so even if a driver got ill, or a team pulled out like McLaren did in Australia, that would not force the event to be stopped.
“An individual having been found with a positive infection will not lead to a cancellation of a race,” he said.
“We encourage teams to have procedures in place so if an individual has to be put in quarantine, we have the ability to quarantine them at a hotel and to replace that individual.
“Some things we’d have to talk through and work through.
“The array of ‘what ifs’ are too wide to play out every one of them, but a team not being able to race wouldn’t cancel the race.
“I don’t think I could sit here and lay out the consequences.
“But we will have a procedure in place that finding infection will not lead to a cancellation. If a driver has an infection, [teams have] reserve drivers available.
“We wouldn’t be going forward if we were not highly confident we have necessary procedures and expertise and capabilities to provide a safe environment and manage whatever issues arrive.”
Carey also revealed the level of details that F1 and the FIA, had gone in to in order to get things in place.
“Certainly the FIA deserves an enormous amount of credit in this process,” he said.
“In many ways they’ve led in this process in terms of health and safety issues. We have engaged with a range of outside experts.
“There is a rigorous set of guidelines, probably at this point it’s 80-90 pages, which will include everything from how do you travel there, what are the processes for being in hotels there to what are the processes that exist at the track, for meals, going to the restroom, downtime between tracks and testing processes.
“We will test before you go there, then there will be testing every two days. There are processes if we find an infection.
“We recognise there is the possibility so we’re prepared to appropriately deal with it, if we find a positive infection.
“We’re working on putting in place tracking capabilities, we have two different tracking options.”
F1 managing director of motorsport Ross Brawn has already raised the possibility of operating in a ‘biosphere’ at races to ensure personnel are isolated from the local community.
Carey was clear that everything was being done to minimise the risk of the virus spreading.
“In many ways, it will be like living in a bubble from when you start travelling on charter planes,” he said.
“There will be controlled transportation to hotels, transportation back and forth to the track from hotels.
“And probably within it, sub bubbles of people who operate different functions and it is set up to manage the processes, make sure we have the right protective equipment and social distancing.
“Clearly we recognise our sport is one which at times, we can’t have two metres between every individual on a team.
“When a car pulls into a pit and has to change four tyres, there won’t be two metres between every individual. We need to make sure we have procedures to manage all those risks as soon as possible.”
Published at Tue, 02 Jun 2020 18:05:48 +0000