Social distancing rules prohibiting more than 75 people from gathering at public events are completely unfair to motorsports racers, the Maltese federation representing the sport has warned.
“[Superintendent of Public Health] Charmaine Gauci is being restrictive against us,” Suzanne Fenech, secretary general of the Malta Motorsport Federation, told Lovin Malta.
“You can’t let a spontaneous protest with more than 75 people take place, allow people to meet in the street like there’s no tomorrow and then refuse an organised event.”
Fenech said the Malta Motorsport Federation Federation has been working hard to assure that the resumption of races is in line with new COVID-19 guidelines.
This includes limiting each driver to one assistant, ensuring officials all wear masks during the race, having hand sanitiser present at all stages of the race, and banning spectators from attending.
Indeed, they specifically chose Mtaħleb for their next race because it is easy to close the road off to spectators.
However, Fenech said around 110 people will still need to be present at the race – not only drivers and their mechanics but race directors, safety officers, timekeepers, stewards, and engineers, as well as marshals positioned every 20m of the race track to flag down drivers in case there’s an accident.
“There’s a lot of corners in this race track and if a car crashes in the middle of the road and there’s no marshal to warn the other drivers, we’ll end up with a train of cars crashing into each other.”
And she warned slashing the number of drivers from the current 30-35 won’t be feasible either, as it will place a great financial burden on member clubs.
“We operate on a voluntary basis but it costs us around €3,000 to apply for permits, which means that if 30 drivers participate, their clubs will each pay €100 to cover the cost of the race. If there are fewer than 30 drivers, the clubs won’t be able to cover the costs.”
After receiving several complaints from racing clubs, Fenech raised the issue with Charmaine Gauci, urging her to utilise her power to apply exemptions from the 75-person rule.
“Our paddock is 3,000 square metres, our safety plan is foolproof, but Charmaine Gauci is still refusing to grant us an exemption. Meanwhile, protests of more than 75 people are being held and 1,000 people are allowed to attend the mosque (this announcement later reversed). The Superintendent of Public Health can grant us an exemption but she won’t.”
The Island Car Club had originally planned to organise a race this Sunday but this has been suspended indefinitely in light of the failed negotiations with the health authorities.
Fenech said at least one race needs to be held in June to close the Maltese championship, warning that it will be too hot to race in July and August.
What do you make of these complaints?