Chambers: “No-one can predict when we can go back racing”

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Jakob Ebrey Photography

Motorsport UK’s CEO Hugh Chambers says that predicting when racing can resume again is very difficult as the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which has halted racing and sport globally for a month, has never been seen before.

Motorsport UK have already announced the suspension of racing in the UK until the end of June making July the theoretical start of the season, but even that could be a little too soon.

Speaking exclusively to The Checkered Flag, Chambers said: “There’s no road map for this, the fact it’s a global pandemic means we’re not alone in this.

“It’s difficult to be certain that every step you take along the way is the right step but everyone needs to be mindful that we’re trying to make the right decisions at that point in time with the information we’ve got.

“The suspension of motorsport we initially until the end of April which we implemented on March 17th seemed like a sensible timeline at that moment. Fairly quickly after that, the government’s furlough scheme was announced until the end of May so it was clear that they thought it would last longer.

“So, we took the decision to give our members clarity by extending the suspension until the end of June, and we’re very happy that it was the right decision.”

Some of the UK’s smaller clubs and series could be under threat but the new funding from Motorsport UK is designed to help them continue running after the pandemic comes to an end. Credit: Motorsport UK/Fun Cup

“I don’t think anyone can really predict when we go back racing again at the moment. There are increasing levels of possibility of return the further in the future we look.

“I think the likelihood of club racing starting again in July is very small because we have to live in the context that our sport is unique with the call we have on medical services and to be a burden on the NHS is going to be unrealistic.”

This came just a day after Motorsport UK announced that they would provide £1m of funding to clubs to help tide them over while the racetracks are silent.

He said: “We split the fund into two halves: loans and grants. I think the feedback we’ve got from our clubs is that this is principally a cash flow concern. A lot of clubs have signed contracts with venues and given the money to the circuits.

“At the moment, circuits are giving the clubs a date later in the year and so are honouring the contract. But that has put clubs in a difficult cashflow position and this fund will help tide them over during this time.”

Chambers also reiterated the importance of clubs of all sizes to the motorsport landscape in the UK: “The clubs are the backbone of the sport. We’ve got 45,000 events a year, 700+ clubs and this year we have about 45,000 competition license holders, 5,000 officials and 10,000 marshalls, so those competitors are connected to the sport through their clubs and that’s what we need to keep alive.”

Some drivers have been doing their bit to help, Abbie Eaton (W Series) and Jade Edwards (TOCA Package) have been helping as delivery drivers during their time in quarantine and the rest of the motorsport world are also doing what they can.

Mercedes F1 Team have been helping to build ventilators that will no doubt benefit the NHS in the fight against COVID-19 and Chambers was full of praise for the men and women of motorsport who are aiding the fight.

He said: “Some of the most intelligent people in the world are involved in motorsport and when these guys put their minds to something, there’s no stopping them.”

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