Supercars has confirmed the new season will commence in Sydney following the decision to postpone the Repco Newcastle 500 to a later date.
The Beaurepaires Sydney SuperNight will replace the Repco Newcastle 500 as the opening event of the 2022 Repco Supercars Championship.
The Newcastle event was scheduled to open the 2022 season on March 4-6, marking its first appearance since 2019.
Monday’s announcement confirms Newcastle will return in 2022, albeit on a later date.
The decision to postpone the Newcastle event was made amid current concern surrounding the number of COVID-19 cases in Newcastle and the continuing uncertainty the virus is causing in parts of the local community.
"Given the continuing evolving and unpredictable COVID situation, it has become too challenging to stage a complex multi-faceted event on the streets of Newcastle for tens of thousands of race fans in March,” Supercars CEO Shane Howard explained.
"Putting on an event of the scale of Newcastle, in the middle of its CBD, requires an enormous amount of work to ensure it runs to a world-class standard.
Newcastle will return at a later date in 2022
"We have been in consultation with the City of Newcastle throughout January and understand that constructing and operating an event of this size during the current COVID period has caused concern in parts of the community.
"As a street circuit built in the heart of the CBD, the event provides enormous economic benefits to the region, and we want to ensure that happens again in 2022. We are working to confirm the rescheduled date as soon as practicable.
"We thank our fans, volunteers, local businesses, Destination NSW, the NSW Office of Sport and City of Newcastle for their ongoing support.
"We fully intend to stage this year’s Repco Newcastle 500 in Supercars’ trademark style, and we are confident that we will be able to successfully do this later in the year.
Sydney Motorsport Park, which hosted four consecutive rounds in 2021, will host a season opener for the first time under lights since 1996.
Minister for Tourism and Sport, and Minister for Western Sydney Stuart Ayres said: "The NSW Government is committed to supporting these important events for our state.
"We commend the determination and resilience of Supercars and will continue to support their efforts to deliver safe, successful and spectacular motorsport events in NSW.
"These events deliver adrenalin-packed motor racing, economic and social benefits for the community and expose NSW to millions around the world.
"We look forward to the Sydney SuperNight Race opening the Supercars 2022 season at Sydney Motorsport Park and announcing a new date for the Newcastle 500 as soon as possible."
Lord Mayor Cr Nuatali Nelmes said that while the Repco Newcastle 500 would have been subject to a strict COVID safe plan for March, the right decision was to postpone the event given community concern remained high.
"City of Newcastle staff have been in regular contact with Supercars regarding the local situation,” Cr Nelmes said.
"We all agreed that right now, and regardless of the additional precautions taken to run the Newcastle 500 safely, the community would feel more confident about the race proceeding later in the year.
"The Repco Newcastle 500 has attracted a growing number of visitors from all parts of NSW and throughout Australia and New Zealand.
"With people still hesitant to travel due to the high number of COVID cases across NSW and the NZ border remaining closed, the right decision was to postpone the race and wait for visitor confidence to rebound over the coming months.”
Tickets will remain valid for the yet to be announced new date of the Repco Newcastle 500.
The 2022 Dunlop Super2 Series will also commence at Sydney Motorsport Park.
Ticketing information regarding the Beaurepaires Sydney SuperNight will be released in coming days. Tickets for the event will be available through Ticketek.