Hinterland TT: Will it be pit lane or pole position?
THE outcome of all-important safety assessments will leave the future of a proposed Isle of Man-style race on the Sunshine Coast Hinterland in either pole position or the pit lane.
The 47km hinterland Tourist Trophy proposal put forward by David Rollins and his Inside Line Events team has drawn mixed reactions, with a community group formed in response to the proposal arguing the race is simply not feasible.
A Gofundme account set up by Mr Rollins is looking to raise $75,000 as a "proof of concept" for sponsors, with funds to go toward necessary safety audits and inspections required to progress the plans.
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The page is already offering "full VIP treatment" options for $990, with $325 of the $75,000 target raised in 16 days.
Mr Rollins said the inspections would proceed regardless of whether the crowdfunding target was reached and they would need to be resolved "well before September 14", although the Events Board indicated no exact timeframe had been placed on the proposal.
The Sunshine Coast Events Board has requested more information from Mr Rollins and his team about the proposal, before the idea is submitted to the Sunshine Coast Council for consideration of approval.
"There's no (properly made) application," was Division Five councillor Jenny McKay's assessment of the situation.
Mr Rollins said he submitted an application to the Sunshine Coast Events Board on February 18 and received the request for more information about a month ago.
He said the team was "working through those steps", which included a course approval and safety audit required to form the bedrock of any plans.
Major Events portfolio holder Councillor Jason O'Pray said he was disappointed in the process, after public meetings were held sparking some fear among local residents concerned about the impacts the race would have.
Peaceful Roads Sunshine Coast acting spokeswoman Fiona Briody said the main issues of concern were the inconvenience to locals of possible road closures, an increase in speeding on local roads year-round and possible damage to the hinterland "brand".
Should the Hinterland TT plans have been developed further before involving the community?
This poll ended on 19 July 2016.
Yes. It's clearly causing too much concern and confusion
No. It needed to be out there early to gauge support
The public needs to make up its mind. Does it want early consultation or closed door meetings?
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
Mr Rollins reiterated there was no approval and it was "simply a proposal".
He told the Daily earlier this week that while it would be better if access to the road was not open to the public or local residents during the race meet, if that was a "deal breaker" for locals, it was something that he would be open to negotiating a solution to.
He pointed out any opening and re-opening of the track would cause liability issues that may take some time to sort out.
Ms Briody, a hinterland resident and business owner who lives on the proposed route said the group was firm in its position the race would be an unfair disruption to property owners and businesses in the area in the crucial pre-Christmas period.
"We would like the council to stop this as soon as possible," she said.
"We think it's just not going to work at all."
Mr Rollins said the December period had been identified as it was a window in the international calendar that would enable the highest quality riders to take part, as well as filling what he said was a gap they'd identified in the Coast events market at that time.
He said those disadvantaged in the short-term would be compensated through airtime for businesses during broadcasting.
Sunshine Coast Events Board chairman Ralph Devlin said there was still "a long way to go" with the proposal which was a "very complex" one, given the stringent safety requirements that had to be met and the concerns held by the community.
"There's a lot to be done before council could be fully advised by the Events Board," Mr Devlin said.
"The proposal is in its very early days."
Cr O'Pray said it was vital the safety concerns were met before the pros and cons of bringing such an event to the region could even be considered.
"At 300km/h it's pretty important your infrastructure's right," he said.
"I have to say, I think they've (promoters) jumped the gun a little bit."
Division 10 councillor and motorcycling enthusiast Greg Rogerson said he hoped there would be no more public speculation until the council or Events Board knew whether safety requirements had been able to be met.
When asked whether public meetings held last month had been premature, Cr Rogerson said he knew there was always going to be some angst in the community, but added there was a "hell of a long way to go".
He questioned whether the promoter was trying to gather a groundswell of support to try and apply pressure to the council to approve any future application.
Mr Rollins insisted the crowdfunding campaign and Facebook page created was in response to the outpouring of community interest and the need to demonstrate to future sponsors the level of support for the proposal.
Cr McKay wanted to know why this application had stepped outside the usual process of pre-evaluation by the Events Board before the council and wider community were consulted in-depth.
"It's unpacked a lot of discussion I could do without," she said, angry at the confusion within the community caused by the publicity of such early-stage plans.
She said she hoped the public didn't think the council was holding information back, explaining that was why the Events Board had made the request for more information from Inside Line Events.
Cr McKay said she'd organised the public meetings after hearing word was spreading through the community, in a bid to address residents' concerns and keep as many informed as possible of the proposal.
Ms Briody was frustrated at the uncertainty caused and added there was concern over how long residents may be 'locked-in' to their properties if the race did eventuate.
"There's no guarantee that the race is even going ahead," she said.
Mr Rollins said he'd not intended to create any tensions within the community, saying he was completely in the council's hands and reactive to the council in regards to the proposal.
He said the proposal could all go away if safety reports and the scale of any works necessary made it impossible, but added he felt they were a "good chance" of success of delivering the event.
He said the ball was in his company's court in terms of carrying out safety audits and gaining track approval before the Events Board could deem the proposal a properly made application.
Mr Rollins said the organisation of safety assessments would take some time and he would be prepared to push the entire timeframe back a year if audits couldn't be organised in time to satisfy the current council request.
Cr McKay was sceptical even if assessments came back in favour of the proposal that the promoters would have success in garnering State Government support for things like road upgrades and any other works that may be required.
"There's so much more that has to be done. It's going to be a long journey," she said.
Ms Briody said there was "a lot of information" that still needed to be shared with the community about the proposal.