Greg Murphy has been ruled out of the Bathurst 1000 after the V8 legend’s Mount Panorama comeback was killed by Covid.
In a blow for every Supercars fan, Murphy withdrew from what would have been his return to racing after he failed to secure a quarantine concession.
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Based in New Zealand, both Murphy and co-driver Richie Stanaway were unable to received a guarantee that they would be able to return home following the December 5 race.
“I can’t explain how frustrating it has been not being able to put our plan into action,” Murphy said.
“I know it’s not the most important thing in the world and Covid has impacted so many people in far more serious ways, but Richie and I were really looking forward to doing this and the effort that has gone into the prep of the car and behind the scenes has been enormous.”
Murphy and Stanaway were to race as a wildcard entry.
Reynolds’ Bathurst hopes receive shot in the arm
Dave Reynolds underwent five Covid tests and was forced to isolate from his own team at the Sydney Super Night after he was granted the temporary vaccination exemption that allowed him to race.
Cleared of any wrongdoing by both NSW Health and Supercars after his medical exemption was ultimately denied, News Corp Australia can reveal that Reynolds abided by every NSW government directive after lodging an application two weeks before he entered the state that included a medical certificate.
Thrown into a vaccination storm when media outlets wrongly reported that an unvaccinated driver was being “investigated” for an exemption breach, Reynolds was given special permission to both enter NSW and to compete because NSW Health could not come to a final conclusion on his application.
The former Bathurst winner was left “shattered” on Thursday when NSW Health finally made the decision that could see him miss the rest of the season.
“I’m shattered to be missing the next three Supercars events,” Reynolds said. “But I understand and respect the health guidelines.”
News Corp Australia can also reveal Reynolds received a flu-shot last year in a previously unknown fact that should dismiss suggestions that he was dodging the immunisation because he was an anti-vaxxer.
The Kelly Grove racer had his first AstraZeneca shot three days before his exemption was ultimately revoked.
In a desperate bid to ensure he does not miss the Bathurst 1000, Reynolds went to Homebush on Monday to have the vaccination after learning that his exemption was in doubt.
The emergency dash to have his first shot should ensure that he will be cleared to race at Mount Panorama on December 3.
“I want to thank Kelly Grove Racing and all of our fans and sponsors for their support,” Reynolds said. “And I can’t wait to get back behind the wheel at Bathurst.”
Reynolds is back home in Melbourne after being ruled out of the next three events, which will all be held at Sydney Motorsport Park. Luke Youlden will replace Reynolds until he is cleared to return.
“I’m super-pumped to get the opportunity to drive my first-ever Sprint Round this weekend,” Youlden said. “Getting these laps under my belt before we head to Bathurst will be great preparation before we take on the 1000 in December.”
Supercars released a statement clearing any suggestion of wrongdoing.
“Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, Supercars has staged all of its events in accordance with applicable State and Territory Government health requirements,” a Supercars spokesman said. “This remains the case and will not change.
“In accordance with NSW Health Orders, in order to attend and compete at last weekend’s Bunnings Trade Sydney SuperNight and the next three rounds of the Championship at Sydney Motorsport Park, all Supercars attendees and drivers must either be fully vaccinated with accepted Covid-19 vaccines or be exempt from vaccination.
“It is on this basis that the venue has an exemption to host up to 10,000 people per day.
“In the last week, NSW health authorities, working closely with Supercars, Kelly Grove Racing and David Reynolds have carefully considered a vaccination exemption presented by David and have concluded that David is not exempt from receiving the vaccine.”
Betty banned, Reynolds fights to drive
David Reynolds is fighting to save his Supercars season due to his vaccination status while Betty Klimenko has been barred from Mount Panorama with the Erebus Motorsport boss revealing that she will miss her first Bathurst 1000 since becoming a team owner because she too is not vaccinated.
Reynolds was on Wednesday confirmed as the unvaccinated driver who is under investigation from NSW Health over a medical exemption that allowed him to compete in the Sydney Super Night last weekend.
The Kelly Grove Racing driver was locked in meetings on Wednesday night as the team consider installing a replacement for this weekend’s round of the Supercars championship at Sydney Motorsport Park while the decision is pending.
Reynolds will need to gain the exemption status required to take to the grid again this year with three rounds remaining in Sydney plus the Bathurst 1000 on December 5.
One person who definitely won’t be in pit lane this weekend or for the rest of the year is Klimenko, Reynolds’ former boss, who revealed to News Corp that she will be sidelined for the biggest race of the year because she has not had the jab.
Klimenko, 62, was this week informed that she would not be able to attend the Bathurst 1000 after NSW Health extended Covid restrictions until December 15.
“It really hit me in the gut when the Premier changed the date from the 1st to the 15th,” Klimenko said.
“I was booked to go but obviously things have changed because only those that have been double vaxed will be allowed in.”
Unable to receive the vaccination because of a health condition, Klimenko was absent from the season restarting Sydney Super Night last weekend.
The larger than life team owner watched from home as her rookie driver – Will Brown – landed his first Supercars podium.
“I would have loved to have been there but I was doing my bit to support them from home,” Klimenko said.
“I was on the edge of my seat all weekend.”
Klimenko said she was not opposed to vaccination and would have been immunised had it not been for medical advice.
“I have a series of conditions that when put together mean I can’t get the jab,” Klimenko said.
“No (I am not an anti vaxxer). God no. I have been vaccinated for the measles, the mumps, chickenpox and even had the grandparent vax. You name it, I have had it. I have no problem with the (coronavirus) vaccination, but unfortunately it has a problem with me.”
Klimenko would have been able to attend the remaining four V8 events in NSW, including the season ending Bathurst 1000, had she applied for a medical exemption.
“I could have applied for an exemption but I don’t think that would have been fair,” Klimenko said.
“I wouldn’t have felt comfortable going to races when other people were unable to attend. I am not any more special than anyone else. I won’t go to Bathurst unless every other fan in NSW is allowed to be there too. It is a sport for the fans. I would feel guilty if others couldn’t be there.”
While Klimenko would have had legitimate grounds for receiving a medical exemption, NSW Health were last night continuing their investigation into an exemption that was given to Reynolds on the weekend.
Reynolds could have his exemption revoked should a review by NSW Health find he does not meet the exemption requirement.
It is understood that the 36-year-old is not at fault given NSW Health granted the exemption before deciding to reconsider the case.
The driver’s team has placed another driver on standby for this week’s Sydney Super Night.
Unvaccinated driver could be sacrificed to save season
Supercars officials are adamant the sport has fully complied with NSW Health Covid protocols despite confirmation an unvaccinated driver is under investigation over the validity of a medical exemption.
The Supercars series was thrust into turmoil on Tuesday after it emerged NSW Health were looking into the medical exemption granted to a driver who raced at Sydney Motorsport Park last weekend.
The NSW-based driver competed in the season-resuming Sydney Super Night despite not being double vaccinated after the sport granted him a concession on medical grounds.
Those medical grounds are now being questioned by health officials.
The driver, who News Corp has chosen not to name, was absent from a Supercars drivers briefing on Monday.
Supercars officials and every race team were required to lodge paperwork with NSW Health prior to the race last weekend outlining the vaccination status of their employees — including drivers, pit crew and staff — and to declare any relevant exemptions.
Drivers and team officials, like spectators, are required to log in via the QR code upon arrival at the racetrack or produce their valid medical exemption certificate upon arrival to gain access to the venue.
“All competitors at Sydney Motorsport Park are compliant with Covid protocols,” a Supercars spokesman said.
It is understood the driver’s exemption was flagged for further investigation last week but he was given an interim clearance to race last weekend.
If NSW Health this week deem the application it to be ineligible, the driver will not be allowed to take any part in the remainder of the Supercars season.
Supercars have three more weekends of racing scheduled over the next three weeks at Sydney Motorsport Park before the season-ending Bathurst 1000 scheduled in the first week of December.
Supercars bosses are awaiting clarification from NSW Health before commenting any further, but understand the situation is beyond their control and will comply with any ruling from the government in order to continue their series.
If that means one driver is left off the grid for the remainder of the season, then it’s a loss they’re willing to take to complete the 2021 championship with Shane van Gisbergen closing in on his second series triumph with a 338-point lead over teammate Jamie Whincup.