The unilateral decision of MotorSport New Zealand’s (MSNZ’s) Chief Executive Officer, Simon Baker, to cancel rather than postpone the final round of the MSNZ National Championships due to be run at Hampton Downs next weekend has come under fire from category coordinators and the promoter alike.
Velocity News invited Mr Baker to explain the reasoning behind the sudden cancellation of the final round but he declined to comment, stating that while he was keen to talk to us he would not be able to because of his current workload.
Just hours before a scheduled teleconference between promoters Speedworks and stakeholders including MSNZ, it’s alleged that Mr Baker had spoken to several category managers and indicated that the Championship final could still go ahead.
However, Velocity News understands that the majority of stakeholders participating in that phone conference wanted to postpone the Championship final. Mr Baker subsequently moved to shut down further discussion by announcing that any decision would be made by MSNZ and the Series Promotor Speedworks.
An hour after the teleconference, Mr Baker sent the following email to the affected stakeholders. Our view is that given this is an MSNZ-permitted Championship event promoted by SWE [Speedworks], those two parties need to show leadership, explore all options available and then come back to the affected stakeholders for further input before any final decision is made or publicised.
At 10:00pm that evening BNT V8’s category management sent the following email to its competitors and sponsors.
As you are all no doubt aware with the current Coronavirus situation the Government has this afternoon released its stance on Events with 500 or more people.
With the March Hampton Downs Event having over 500 competitors – Teams and Crews plus Officials and Marshals – under the current Government restrictions it would not be possible to hold this Event.
We are currently working with our promoter SpeedWorks to postpone this event in the interim to a date when restrictions may be lifted. Should the current circumstances not change over the next few months we may have to declare the Championship under Force Majeure.
We will keep you all updated with any more information as soon as it becomes available.
Velocity News posted the BNT V8’s postponement notice at 6.30am the following morning (Tuesday 17th March). At 8am MSNZ’s Jordie Peters phoned Velocity News saying the Championship Final had not been postponed, and advised that MSNZ was emailing out a questionnaire to all the affected competitors asking if they wanted the race meeting to go ahead. We informed him that in our view it would be irresponsible of MSNZ not to postpone the Championship Final.
It’s no coincidence that mere hours later on Tuesday afternoon MSNZ posted the following notice on its website:
The MotorSport New Zealand Championship event scheduled for March 27-29 has been postponed.
The decision was made by MotorSport New Zealand and the promoter SpeedWorks Events after concentrated discussions over the last 24 hours.
Recent and rapid developments in the COVID-19 situation, including the travel and mass gathering restriction set in place yesterday, have been a factor that all parties have had to consider.
The sport was supportive of the event being run if at all possible to minimise the wider impact on the motorsport community and businesses. However, during the consultation process, multiple classes took the decision to withdraw from the event following their committee and competitor feedback. These withdrawals made the event unviable from the sport’s and the promoter’s point of view.
MotorSport New Zealand and SpeedWorks Events will work with Hampton Downs to find a suitable date for the event to be rescheduled between the end of May and the end of June.
Two days later, without any consultation or prior notice to the affected stakeholders, including the promoter, MSNZ issued the following:
Final round of MotorSport New Zealand Championship cancelled March 19, 2020.
MotorSport New Zealand has made the decision to cancel the Hampton Downs event which was originally scheduled for March 28-29 and was earlier this week postponed until between late May and late June.
Further complications and logistical issues identified, combined with feedback gained through further consultation, have led to this decision.
MotorSport New Zealand will be working with those national championship classes affected to assist them where required.
Understandably, the categories and the promoter Speedworks are less than happy as:
- a) they say they were not consulted
- b) they were not given any prior warning
- c) nor were they given any reason for this sudden about-turn.
Cancellation as opposed to postponing the event has serious commercial consequences and as such consultation was needed by all the affected stakeholders, so that in the event that there was no other option but to cancel the final round of The National Championship that a “Force majeure” could be declared.
Velocity News understands and supports the New Zealand Government’s COVID-19s policies and initiatives.