The V8 Supercars Championship has announced a radical change in the line-up and format of next year’s events, with highlights being the addition of primetime twilight races and a more simplified race format. The vastly unpopular 60/60 SuperSprint races (where the first leg is essentially a non-event) would also be dumped.
Next year’s calendar will also have a completely Australasian focus with confirmation that the category would not be making a return to the Circuit of the Americas.
In a press release entitled ‘Innovation follows Consolidation’, the V8 Supercars Championship outlined its plans to build on the many successes of this year’s championship, which saw the addition of AMG and Nissan to the field to run under the brand new Car of the Future regulations.
“We have the opportunity to continue with an entrepreneurial approach, with high levels of innovation and commitment to our fans,” V8 Supercars’ recently appointed CEO, James Warburton, said.
Warburton confirmed that up to five Saturday twilight races were on the cards, which were aimed to make the series more accessible, as well as to increase the championship’s share of the TV audience with host broadcaster, the Seven Network,
Organisers also confirmed that next year’s calendar would have three categories of events:
SuperSprint events: held at all of the road course circuits, the format will feature two separate 100-kilometre races on Saturday and a 200-kilometre race on Sunday;
SuperStreet events: held on all of the street circuit rounds, separate 250-kilometre races held on Saturday and Sunday;
PIRTEK Endurance Cup: the Sandown 500, Bathurst 1000 and Gold Coast 600 events
The only anomalies to this format are the non-championship round during the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix and the ITM 500 in Auckland, which will feature an extra 100-kilometre race on the Friday, which is the ANZAC Day national holiday in Australia and New Zealand.
Another announcement was the return to racing at Sydney Motorsport Park, which made a last-minute appearance on the 2012 calendar before being shelved in 2013. The deal gives Australia’s largest city a more prominent position on the calendar, with the western Sydney venue also set to stage the compulsory pre-season test in February.
|FEB 15||Open Test Day||Sydney Motorsport Park|
|MAR 01-02||Clipsal 500 Adelaide||Adelaide street circuit||SuperStreet|
|MAR 14-16||Australian Grand Prix||Albert Park Circuit||Non C’ship|
|MAR 28-30||Tasmania 400||Symmons Plains Raceway||SuperSprint|
|APR 05-06||Winton 400||Winton Motor Raceway||SuperSprint|
|APR 25-27||ITM 500 Auckland||Pukekohe Park Raceway||SuperSprint|
|MAY 17-18*||Perth 400 Challenge||Barbagallo Raceway||SuperSprint|
|JUN 21-22||SkyCity Triple Crown 400||Hidden Valley Raceway||SuperSprint|
|JUL 05-06||Townsville 500||Townsville street circuit||SuperStreet|
|AUG 02-03*||Coates Hire Ipswich 400||Queensland Raceway||SuperSprint|
|AUG 23-24||Sydney Motorsport Park 400||Sydney Motorsport Park||SuperSprint|
|SEP 13-14||Wilson Security Sandown 500||Sandown Raceway||Enduro Cup|
|OCT 10-12||SuperCheap Auto Bathurst 1000||Mount Panorama Circuit||Enduro Cup|
|OCT 25-26||ArmorAll Gold Coast 600||Surfers Paradise street circuit||Enduro Cup|
|NOV 15-16||Phillip Island 400||Phillip Island GP Circuit||SuperSprint|
|DEC 06-07||Sydney 500||Sydney Olympic Park||SuperStreet|
Sydney’s return has come at the expense of the Circuit of the Americas round, with both sides unable to agree to a suitable date to stage the Austin 400.
While organisers described the 2013 event as “an enormous success”, attendance and TV audience numbers (the latter purely by dint of the TV-unfriendly timezone difference to Australia) were down on what had been expected.
“[It] led to the mutual agreement of a gap-year before consolidating, planning and returning to Texas in 2015,” Warburton added, with comments that seem eerily similar to the comments organisers have made when other offshore events – notably at China, Cahrain and Abu Dhabi – were respectively canned, never to return.
It would seem that the only possibility for the Circuit of the Americas to reasonably make a return to the championship calendar would be if the event was ‘twinned’ with another North America-based round.