Supercars track engineers have ordered the light rail tracks that cross Watt Street becovered over to prevent damage to passing race cars.
Race organisers announced the major back flipafter inspecting the section of track on Tuesday andWednesday afternoon.
Supercars and Transport for NSW have consistently claimed the exposed section of track would not impact on the race or require special treatment.
However, theHeraldunderstands at least one race team raised concerns about the potential for the cars to be damaged at the Watt Street intersectionlate last year.
Several engineering solutions were considered, including covering the intersection with metal plates andinstalling a drop-in section of track.
Supercars’ Newcastle 500 event manager Kurt Sakzewski said on Wednesday night that the decision to cover the track had been made after thecrossing was examined in a“racing environment”.
“The view is being proactive is a better approach as a preventative measure,” he said.
Supercars’ organisers inspect the Watt Street intersection on Wednesday afternoon.
“While we do not believe it would be an issue to leave the rails as they stand, we have decided to cover them prior to the cars hitting the track removes any risk, no matter how small.
“We consulted with Transport for NSW engineers and this temporary installation will have no lasting effects on the lines. It’s a simple cover which can be quickly removed immediately after the event.”
Head of the CAMS Safety and Track CommitteeMark Skaife said the committee supported the decision to cover the intersection.
“We think that it’s better to have an engineering solution that covers the tracks and that’s obviously been in consultation and co-operation with the light rail authority,” he said.
“From a risk-management standpoint and an engineering solution, I think Supercars has done the right thing.”
Race organisersremained of the view that the exposed track would not affect the race as late as Monday afternoon.
Under theSupercars Act, the organisation isrequired to pay all costs associated with modifying or damaging the intersection.
Itwill have less than 24 hours to completethe work before racingcommences.
Light rail is due to be fully operational early next year.It is not known how the Watt Street intersection conflict will affect its operation in years to come.