The 2015 calendar for the V8 Supercars Championship has been released, with next year’s schedule featuring a few significant shake-ups in comparison to 2014.
First off the books is the compulsory pre-season test at Sydney Motorsport Park, which has been expanded to a two-day session over the weekend of February 7-8. As has long been rumoured, however, the event coincides with the Bathurst 12 Hour, meaning that the championship’s regular drivers will be unable to feature at both events.
The move comes in the first year of the championship’s new television rights deal with FOX Sports and Network Ten, who knocked back a proposal from V8 Supercars that would have seen it produce a television package for the 12 Hour that FOX would broadcast. Rival network Channel Seven – currently in its final year of exclusive V8 Supercars broadcasting – picked up the spoils to showcase the 12 Hour instead.
V8SC CEO James Warburton made no apologies for the schedule clash with the Bathurst 12 Hour, which was a popular event for a number of the established V8 Supercars drivers.
“We will always proudly support our stars, but we don’t need to be apologetic or explain ourselves in doing the best thing for our category,” he told the Speed Café website.
“Our teams and drivers understand their obligations and commitment and to do so goes without saying.”
The bulk of the Sydney test will take place on the Saturday – broadcast live on FOX, with a one-hour highlights package for the free-to-air Network Ten – and Sunday’s action will mix on-track testing with a somewhat pointless unveiling of liveries (given most will have been shown off on the Saturday) and a ‘SuperShootout’ event. The shootout will see each car perform a timed lap, a pit stop and an out-lap, with the fastest overall declared the winner.
Warburton was at pains to praise the revamped two-day pre-season test, which he hoped would be a massive drawcard for fans and TV viewers. As an added incentive, trackside entry to the two-day test would be free.
“It is a grand season opening launch, the style of which has never been seen in our sport,” he said today.
“It’s about giving the teams more time for the most important test of the year and at the same time allowing maximum interaction and engagement with fans.”
As for the rest of the 2015 calendar, it remains largely unchanged, except for a rescheduling of the sole New Zealand round, at Auckland’s Pukekohe Raceway, to a November date before the Phillip Island round and the December finale in at Sydney Olympic Park. The rounds at Barbagallo Raceway and Winton have had minor date changes to fill the gap left by the Pukekohe move.
V8SC also confirmed that each of the rounds slated as ‘SuperSprint’ – which have two 100-kilometre Sprint Races on Saturday and a 200-kilometre Feature Race on the Sunday – would have two hours of free testing time on the Fridays, eliminating the need for costly in-season private test sessions.
“It made sense that instead of testing away from the fans to combine Friday practice and allow teams the ability to adopt testing procedures as required,” Warburton explained.
“That achieves two key objectives: more V8 Supercars on track for the fans and reducing the high costs to teams of testing away from race meetings.”
The only other change is the race distance of the Townsville street circuit double-header. Its race distances were increased to 250 kilometres this year, but will revert to the traditional 200-kilometre distances run in previous years.
Its fellow ‘SuperStreet’ events in Adelaide and Sydney will retain their 500-kilometre formats, with a pair of 125-kilometre races on the Saturday and a 250-kilometre Feature Race on the Sunday.
2015 V8 Supercars Championship Calendar:
|07-08 Feb||V8 Super Test||Sydney Motorsport Park, Sydney||Super Test|
|26 Feb-01 Mar||Clipsal 500 Adelaide||Adelaide street circuit||SuperStreet|
|12-15 Mar||Australian Grand Prix||Albert Park, Melbourne||Non-Championship|
|27-29 Mar||Tasmania SuperSprint||Symmons Plains, Launceston||SuperSprint|
|17-19 Apr||Perth SuperSprint||Barbagallo Raceway, Perth||SuperSprint|
|15-17 May||Winton SuperSprint||Winton Raceway, Winton||SuperSprint|
|19-21 Jun||SkyCity Triple Crown||Hidden Valley Raceway, Darwin||SuperSprint|
|10-12 Jul||Castrol Townsville 400||Townsville street circuit||SuperStreet|
|31 Jul-02 Aug||Coates Hire Ipswich SuperSprint||Queensland Raceway, Ipswich||SuperSprint|
|21-23 Aug||SMP SuperSprint||Sydney Motorsport Park, Sydney||SuperSprint|
|11-13 Sept||Wilson Security Sandown 500||Sandown Raceway, Melbourne||Enduro Cup|
|08-11 Oct||SuperCheap Auto Bathurst 1000||Mt Panorama, Bathurst||Enduro Cup|
|23-25 Oct||Castrol Edge Gold Coast 600||Surfers Paradise street circuit||Enduro Cup|
|06-08 Nov||ITM 500 Auckland||Pukekohe Raceway, Auckland||SuperSprint|
|20-22 Nov||Phillip Island SuperSprint||Phillip Island Circuit, Phillip Island||SuperSprint|
|04-06 Dec||Sydney 500||Homebush street circuit, Sydney||SuperStreet|