COVID cluster causes Winton race misfire

Mount Gambier’s two fastest teenagers were forced to slam the brakes on their huge weekend of racing after the 2021 Winton Supersprint was postponed at the last minute due to the latest Victorian lockdown. Limestone Coast drivers Kai Allen and Jobe Stewart both had high expectations in the second round of the 2021 Toyota Gazoo Racing 86 series supporting the Repco Supercars Championship.

The pair even made the long journey to the country Victorian circuit, only to turn around a day before the on-track action was scheduled to start. For Allen, it was a significant blow as he suited up to complete his graduation from go karts to racing cars by making his debut for TekworX Motorsport.

But he understood the situation was greater than car racing. “It was sad to see and disappointing, but it is what it is because you have to put peoples health and safety before anything else,” he said. “I flew from Gold Coast to Melbourne and we were 10 minutes away from the track when I got a call from my team boss saying we need to turn around and go home. “It was a bummer, but we will now get everything ready for Townsville.”

A veteran of two Toyota 86 events, Stewart was also excited to race with the meeting his first outside of Bathurst. He and his dad had actually completed the almost eight-hour drive from Mount Gambier to Winton, but were suddenly encountered with a race against time last Thursday. Stewart said it was heartbreaking to dash for the border.

“There is not much more you can say aside from it was pretty disappointing,” he said. “I was pretty confident we were going to have a good weekend, but things could have been even worse because we were nearly stuck there. “We got there on Wednesday, stayed the night and suddenly they announced the lockdown the next morning, so we had to drive back home.”

Fortunately for the pair and the hundreds of other personal part of the Supercars’ circus for Winton, the race will hopefully take place at a later date. The event has been rescheduled for the final weekend of July between the Townsville and Sydney races. It means Allen will have to wait even longer to make his Toyota 86 racing debut, while Stewart will be forced to spend four months between races.

However, it is not all bad news with Stewart picking up a new sponsor in Care Safe, while Allen was lucky enough to enjoy the ride of a lifetime recently. “My team owner asked if I could head up to Morgan Park and be a mechanic for the day, but at the end he asked me to chuck my racing gear on which was a surprise,” he said.

 “I got to do a couple of laps in the Porsche, which was really exciting because it was a completely different experience as I could not see over the steering wheel. “It was a lot faster than anything I have driven and it was good to have (2017 Bathurst 1000 winner) Luke Youlden beside me in the passenger seat teaching me how to drive it.”

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