CALLING TIME: Organisers for the Historic Leyburn Sprints have made the difficult decision to cancel this year’s event with uncertainty looming on coronavirus restrictions.
CALLING TIME: Organisers for the Historic Leyburn Sprints have made the difficult decision to cancel this year’s event with uncertainty looming on coronavirus restrictions.

CANCELLED: Leyburn Sprints slams on the brakes

MOTORSPORTS: After months of deliberation, a difficult decision has been made to cancel the 25th Historic Leyburn Sprints.

The two-day event scheduled for August 22 and 23 was officially cancelled today after the prospect of running the event under strict coronavirus restrictions became too difficult.

President Tricia Chant said there were two major factors for the committee’s decision to abandon this year’s event.

“The writing on the wall was (if we could run larger events) in two months and they did say we could go ahead, it only leaves us with one month to prepare,” she said.

“We also considered the possibility of deferring to October, but we ran into a number of obstacles, one being that we still may not actually be able to run plus we’re getting into warmer weather.

“The second one has been on our mind for a while, that we’re taking over a small country town, and many are COVID-19 free.

“There is the remote possibility that we could bring the virus into the town with so many external people from the township around.”

The cancellation of the Sprints is another blow to tourism across the Southern Downs, with an estimated $1.75 million generated from the two-day event.

“Those figures get taken as part of a survey that we do, asking people what they spend per day including accommodation, fuel, food, alcohol, etc,” Chant said.

“Unfortunately, it’s going to have quite an impact.

“I spoke with publicans Shane and Sam Toy (Leyburn Royal Hotel owners) before it went public and of course it’s going to have a major impact on them and other small businesses around town.”

As an event which draws more than 15,000 drivers and spectators to the region, Chant said she doesn’t expect people to lose interest after a 12 months delay.

“I think (not going ahead this year) will serve to get their interest going again,” she said.

“I know that some competitors may take issue or be concerned coming into a big event. Even if we were allowed to run, we’d be one of the first ones and be a bit of a testing ground.

“Some people have financial struggles at the moment with losing their jobs.

“And a lot of people are doing work on their cars, so a lot of people are probably thankful for the extra time.

“To be honest, I don’t think we’ll have an issue with people staying away.”

Despite the cancellation having significant implications on the region, Chant said the committee would use the extra time to prepare for 2021.

“Even if we could go ahead (this year), the last minute rush to get everything organised wouldn’t have given the 25th anniversary the attention it needed,” she said.

“We are planning on keeping the normal format with a two-day event and keeping the number of entrants the same.

“But it will be all of the add-ons, the VIP/ celebrity drivers, a legends dinner and charity auction that we can organise.

“And we have more time to do it and I don’t want to waste this opportunity.”



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