Big changes ahead for V8Supercars in 2001
In what was probably the biggest change to the on track operation of V8Supercars in it's history, AVESCO has announced a sweeping series of changes for 2001 and beyond. These changes are as a result of a fan feedback, and the need to create a wider variety of possible event outcomes.
The calendar itself in 2001 has not changed much at all, with Pukekohe replacing the sprint round at Queensland Raceway, with a 3 x 100km event in November promoted by International Management Group (IMG). IMG are also promoting the new 3 x 150km Sandown meeting which will conclude the championship in December, entitled "The Australian V8 Ultimate Showdown".
Western Australia maintains it's series round, but only to give the Western Australian government enough time to set up a street race for Perth in 2001. If there's no street race for AVESCO to come back to in 2001, then there will no V8Supercars in Perth.
The big changes:|
· New base format: 2 x 100km races on Sunday with a compulsory pit stop in each.
· New race at Pukekohe, outside Auckland, New Zealand. 3 x 100km races.
· More television coverage.
· Reverse grids out, except for Canberra.
· Points to 32nd position.
· Konica Series non-championship support race at Bathurst.
· Qualifying Shootouts at every race except Albert Park.
· 32 car limit at most events.
· October long weekend return at Bathurst for V8Supercars.
· Races in Asia at the expense of existing Australian events.
The series changes it's 'bread and butter' format from the often processional 3 x 20 minute race format to 2 x 100km races, with a compulsory pit stop in each. The races will last an average of 45 minutes.
AVESCO CEO Wayne Cattach explained that the "fundamental changes" were as a direct result of fan feedback and were designed to produce "varying race outcomes" without diluting the "best team wins" concept artificially with reverse grids.
The 3 x 20min concept still survives at Calder and Barbagallo, where pit facilities do not facilitate a compulsory tyre change.
The Gold Coast Indy 300 supports also survive, with 3 x 30-minute races. Why did Indy survive? The answer is simple: "They found our price" said Tony Cochrane, proving that a wad full of cash will beat better pit facilities any day.
To come with the longer races comes more TV time, with 70 hours coverage of the Shell Series in 2001.
There are also many other format changes for the racing next year including:
» A 32 car grid at each round except Adelaide and Bathurst. The top 25 cars in the Shell Series point standing will automatically qualify for the round, with the rest to dual it out in pre-qualifying for the remaining seven positions.
» A new points system, with points awarded down to 32nd position. Bonus points will be awarded on a 8, 6, 4, 3, 2, 1 system in qualifying shootouts.
» Qualifying shootouts will be expanded in 2001, with the four championship rounds that currently have shootouts all being top 15, and all other races except the Australian Grand Prix support hosting a top ten shootout.
» Reverse grid races have been removed from the Shell Series with the exception of Canberra, where it is a part of the agreement between AVESCO and Canberra organisers. The Konica Series will retain its reverse grid race two, expanding from six cars to 10.
The V8Lites series changes more than just its name in 2001. The Konica V8Supercar Series will hold a round at Wakefield Park for the first time, expanding the series to six rounds. All rounds will be run in the standard 3 x 20 minutes format.
A 30 lap non-championship feature race has also been added at Bathurst for cars who do not make the reduced to 48 capacity field at the FAI 1000.
The definition of a Konica Series competitor will be strictly enforced in 2001, after the controversy surrounding the David Besnard, Stone Brothers entry. AVESCO will consider applications to run in the Konica Series from Level 1 competitors on an individual basis to determine whether the entry fits under the sprit of the purpose of the second level series.
AVESCO also flagged their intentions for 2002 and beyond. With an Asian race an almost definite, another Australian race will disappear. This is because the teams are not keen to increase the existing 15-event limit for V8Supercars, after already being forced to find bigger budgets to cover long races for next year.
Bathurst will return to the sacred Labour Day weekend from 2002. The 2001 date change would have been to this weekend if it were not for the early holiday which means that the last weekend in September NRL and AFL Grand Finals fall on the same weekend.