Shane van Gisbergen will now be able to compete in the New Zealand Grand Prix with Queensland announcing today that they will open its borders to travellers from New Zealand from 1 am tomorrow.
The Bathurst 1000 winner confirmed earlier this week that he had entered the 66th running of the Grand Prix, which next year will be staged at Hampton Downs.
However, there was a chance he would miss the race. His de facto home during the Supercars championship is in Queensland, which required all international arrivals to self-isolate for two weeks.
Van Gisbergen is scheduled to return to the Gold Coast on February 5 ahead of the Supercars launch, meaning it would have been unviable to race in the Grand Prix and return to Queensland with sufficient time to quarantine.
But the announcement today by Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk means that obstacle is cleared, granted the state can remain Covid free up until February.
The Queensland Government made the decision after New Zealand reached 28 days of zero community transmission.
“(Chief health officer) Dr Jeannette Young advised me yesterday that she was more than happy to allow New Zealanders to come into Queensland,” said Palaszczuk.
“It is a wonderful time of year to allow that to happen as well. All the stars are aligned at the moment.”
Despite today’s announcement by Palaszczuk, reports from Australia are suggesting that a quarantine-free Trans-Tasman bubble is unlikely to be implemented before February at the earliest. It means anyone returning to New Zealand will still be required to isolate for two weeks.
“Shane is one of New Zealand’s greatest drivers and ambassadors of the modern era and will be a massive drawcard for the first running of the New Zealand Grand Prix at Hampton Downs, which we’ve coined the Race of Champions,” Hampton Downs chief operating officer Josie Spillane said when van Gisbergen confirmed his entry into the event.
Ken Smith and Matthew Payne are the only two other drivers confirmed for the Grand Prix, which is to be held over January 22-24.