The Supercars Championship will adopt a MotoGP-style qualifying format at the Tasmania and Perth SuperSprint rounds to ease track congestion.

The events – held at Symmons Plains (pictured above) and Barbagallo Raceway respectively – are staged on the season’s two shortest circuits, at just 2.4 kilometres in length.

With upwards of 26 cars jostling for a clear run on circuits which take less than a minute to lap, qualifying at both venues has been blighted by a number of near-misses in recent years. This year’s Perth SuperSprint saw Nissan rookie Simona de Silvestro penalised for unwittingly forcing Shane van Gisbergen onto the grass at the end of the back straight when he was on a flying lap.

Qualifying for both the Saturday and Sunday races will now be run in a three-part knockout format. Friday practice times will determine who participates in the first Q1 session on Saturday, while an extra practice session will occur on Sunday to determine who participates in Q1 on Sunday.

The exact format is as follows:

  • The fastest 10 drivers from combined results from Friday two practice sessions or Sunday sole practice session will earn an immediate entry into Q2
  • A total of 16 drivers (the slowest 16 runners in Friday or Sunday practice) will compete in Q1, with the fastest six drivers earning an entry into Q2. The slowest 10 runners’ times from Q1 will confirm the race’s starting grid for P17 to P26.
  • A total of 16 drivers (the fastest 10 from practice and the fastest 6 from Q1) will compete in Q2, with the fastest 10 drivers earning an entry into Q3. The slowest six runners’ times from Q2 will confirm the race’s starting grid for P11 to P16.
  • The remaining 10 drivers will compete in Q3, with the times from this session determining the race’s starting grid for P1 to P10.

Each knockout qualifying session will run for 10 minutes, with a five-minute gap between.

Supercars tyre supplier Dunlop will provide an extra set of tyres to each car at these events to ensure there is no reduced practice running, however a tyre set will have to be handed back to Dunlop before Saturday qualifying.

An extra set of tyres will be available for both events, with the ‘handback’ to be done so before Saturday qualifying.

Explaining the restructured qualifying format, Supercars sporting and technical director David Stuart highlighted the traffic concerns that both Symmons Plains and Barbagallo Raceway pose.

“We’ve had issues at Symmons Plains and Barbagallo, which have been a function of the circuit length and the amount of cars,” he told the official Supercars website.

“The aim has been to try and reduce the amount of traffic on track, which lessens the chances of those issues reoccurring.

“We looked at the way MotoGP and Formula 1 do things and we’ve come up with a combination of both.”

The three-part format could be introduced at other Supercars events if it proves successful.

Image via Red Bull Content Pool

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Geoff Burke

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