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V8 Supercars
V8Supercars logo.png
Category Touring car racing
Country or region Australasia
Inaugural season 1997
Drivers 29
Teams 18
Constructors 2
Engine suppliers 5.0 litre pushrod V8
Tyre suppliers Dunlop
Drivers' champion Australia Jamie Whincup
Teams' champion Holden Racing Team
Makes' champion Ford[1]
Official website V8Supercars.com.au
Motorsport current event.svg Current season

V8 Supercars is a touring car racing category based in Australia and run as an International Series under Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) regulations. As well as enjoying popularity in Australia, it has a considerable following in New Zealand[citation needed], and is steadily growing in popularity across the world[citation needed] where television coverage allows.

V8 Supercar events take place in all states of Australia, as well as rounds in the Northern Territory, New Zealand and Bahrain, with Abu Dhabi joining the calendar in 2010.[2] V8 Supercars have drawn crowds of over 250,000 spectators.[3] The 2007 season was held over 14 race weekends on various purpose-built racetracks and street circuits in the aforementioned countries. Race formats range from sprint races, with either a 100 km or 200 km race on Saturday and one 200 km race on Sunday or two; 250 km races over the weekend (Adelaide and Sydney), or endurance races such as Bathurst, which runs over a 1000 km race distance, and Phillip Island, which runs over 500 km.

The V8 Supercars themselves take as their basis either the Ford Falcon or Holden Commodore. Although they bear some resemblance to the production models outwardly, they undergo a high degree of modification to suit the motorsport application. They are strictly governed in all aspects of performance in an effort to keep all the drivers on an even footing to create closer, more exciting racing.[citation needed] Because of this, entire fields of 29 drivers are separated by just one second over qualifying laps at some events.

Historically, the Falcon and Commodore are the two most popular passenger cars in the Australian car market. Rivalry between the two makes is a major aspect of the sport's appeal.[citation needed]

Contents

History

In January 1993 the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport replaced the existing Group 3A Touring Car category (formerly based on FIA Group A rules) with a new three-class Group 3A. This encompassed:

  • Class A for Australian-produced 5.0 litre V8 engined Fords and Holdens
  • Class B for 2.0 litre cars complying with FIA Class II Touring Car regulations
  • Class C, valid for 1993 only, for normally aspirated two-wheel drive cars complying with 1992 CAMS Group 3A Touring Car regulations.[4]

Cars from all three classes would contest the Australian Touring Car Championship as well as non-championship Australian touring car events such as the Bathurst 1000; but for the purposes of race classification and points allocation, cars competed in two classes:

  1. over 2000cc
  2. up to 2000cc

Existing normally aspirated cars such as the BMW M3 could continue to compete under the Class C clause, unlike the turbocharged Ford Sierra and Nissan Skyline GT-R models which the new rules excluded from the category. However the M3 received few of the liberal concessions given to the new V8s and, with the Class C cars eligible for 1993 only, the German manufacturer’s attention switched to the 2.0 litre class for 1994.

From 1995 the 2.0 litre cars, now contesting their own series as Super Touring Cars, became ineligible for the Australian Touring Car Championship. They did not contest the endurance races at Sandown and Bathurst, leaving these open solely to the 5.0 litre Ford and Holden models.

The category acquired the moniker 'V8 Supercars' in 1997 after event-management company IMG won the rights to the series in 1997 after a bitter battle against CAMS and the ARDC, and led the championship on a rapid expansion. Network Ten began televising the series in the same year, taking over from Channel Seven. The Australian Vee Eight Supercar Company (AVESCO) was later formed to run the series directly and later became an independent organisation from its IMG origins.

AVESCO introduced carnival street-race V8 Supercar events such as the Clipsal 500 and strove to turn Australian touring car racing into a world-class product. The name "Shell Australian Touring Car Championship" was replaced by "Shell Championship Series", now called the "V8 Supercar Championship Series". In 2005 AVESCO changed its name to V8 Supercars Australia.[5][6]

In the Group 3A / V8 Supercar category, from 1993 to 2008, Holden drivers have won nine Australian Touring Car Championships/Shell Championship Series/V8 Supercar Championship Series titles and Ford drivers have won seven.

The V8 Supercar

The regulations aim to balance the desire for technical competition and fast vehicles with a requirement to keep costs reasonable. Racing is close, and the cars bear some resemblance to production models. The recent application of "Project Blueprint" - introduced at the beginning of the 2003 season (where both makes of car were examined to ensure parity) the racing between Holden and Ford has become closer than ever (reducing the risk of a one make dominated series).

Bodyshell

Unlike other forms of motorsport (such as NASCAR) where competitors build cars from space frame construction, V8 Supercars are still based on production road cars. Each V8 Supercar is based on a current-specification VE Commodore or FG Falcon production bodyshell, with an elaborate roll cage constructed into the shell from aircraft-grade, 20 mm thick tubing. In 2007 specifications both the Commodore and Falcon have adopted E-glass front mudguards in place of the production steel items, in order to save costs.

The VE Commodore was initially rejected from taking part in the series due to its wheelbase being longer and wider than the BF Falcon. For the model to be homologated, V8 Supercar granted the Commodore a custom fabricated bodyshell into which a limited number of production bodyshell panels are incorporated. As a result, the roofline is lower than production and the rear door is shorter such that externally the rear doors, roof and rear quarters all consist of specialised custom coachwork panels.

Similarly, the longer wheelbase of the FG Falcon (over the BF) requires a comparable custom-fabricated shorter body, and the FG is also shorted in the rear door and lowered in the roof line compared to the road going model.

Aerodynamics

A standard "aerodynamic package" of spoilers and wings, a front splitter/air dam and side skirts which are made in house by the teams. Testing is conducted so that in principle the two makes have similar aerodynamics. However the test is only conducted at one particular speed and with the cars set to the lowest downforce configuration, leaving room for controversy.[citation needed]

Weight

The minimum category weight is 1355 kg (2987 lbs.) (without the driver)

Power

A V8 Supercar must have a front-engine design and rear-wheel drive. Every car is powered by either a 5.0 L Ford "Windsor" SVO or 5.0 L Small Block Chevrolet race engine (depending on the make) which is capable of producing between 460 and 485 kW (620 — 650 bhp) of power, but generally quoted as a little over 450 kW (600 bhp) in race trim. Engines have pushrod actuated valves and electronic fuel injection. Both Ford and Holden engines are based on racing engines from their respective US parent companies. Engines are electronically restricted to 7,500 rpm.

Broadly speaking, the engines have a capacity of 5 litres, with 2 valves per cylinder. Compression ratio is regulated to 10.5:1. From the 2009 season onwards, cars run on E85 fuel consisting of 85% ethanol, which while reaping the benefits of a fuel largely made from a renewable resource has seen a marked increase in fuel consumption. EFI configuration is that of individual throttle bodies (albeit throttle actuation is linked/synchronised) and one injector per cylinder.

Engines typically produce approximately 50 less bhp when raced at the Bathurst 1000. This is done both to gain necessary engine longevity on the endurance race as well as to improve fuel efficiency, and moderate the number of potential refuelling stops. The advent of E85 fuel however has reduced the importance of fuel efficiency as a typical Bathurst stint has been reduced from approximately 31-32 laps to 22-23.

Some common components

All cars in the category use identical spool differentials, brake packages and gearboxes. The category uses a 6-speed Hollinger gearbox (Australian made), in either the 'H' pattern or as of 2008, a sequential pattern. Differential ratios used throughout the season are 3.75:1, 3.5:1, 3.25:1 and 3.15:1. The 3.15:1 ratio differential was introduced in 2005 to be used at Bathurst - cars with this ratio can now exceed 300 km/h on Conrod Straight (this has yet to be demonstrated, although Perkins Engineering claims to have exceeded this speed multiple times in the 2005 event). The theoretical maximum speed is 306 km/h at 7,500 rpm. All cars have a 75 litre fuel tank, except for the endurance races at Phillip Island and Bathurst (which still use the 120 litre fuel tank from previous seasons), the previous 'Bathurst Tank' was a 36 Gallon (159 L) tank.

Suspension

Basic front-suspension configuration is double wishbone (made compulsory for both makes through Project Blueprint), whilst rear suspension is a "live axle" design, using 4 longitudinal links and Watt's linkage for lateral location. Both suspension systems are similar to those fitted to the EL Falcon.

Brakes

Front- and rear-brake disks have to be made out of ferrous material (steel brakes as opposed to carbon brakes). Maximal dimensions for each disk are 376x35.56 mm (diameter x thickness). Until the end of the 2006 season, teams could choose the manufacturer of the braking system. In 2007 Alcon, UK based brake manufacturer secured the contract to supply the braking system in accordance to specific regulations.

Tyres

A Dunlop "control tyre" is supplied to all teams. Throughout the year, there are restrictions on the number of testing days (6 per year), along with the number of tyres used during those days. For race meetings, teams are allocated a set number of tyres for the entire weekend, with the number available for each race depending on the type of race (sprint or endurance).

The series adopted a softer, higher performance "sprint tyre" during the 2009 season — although it was not used during every race meeting. The idea is to allow every driver to use one set of those softer tyres, that can be used at the team's own discretion. A source of controversy is that the soft tyre set is allocated per weekend, meaning each driver has to chose which race they wish to maximise their performance, with the other race potentially sacrificed. It has added an element of contrivance to race results with front running competitors languishing downfield through no fault of their own, and allowing midfield drivers to win races.

Cost

Reported[citation needed] to be approximately AU$600,000 per car and AU$130,000 per engine. Teams spend up to AU$10 million per year running their two-car teams. TEGA introduced a salary cap of AU$6.75 million in order to keep costs down in 2007, called the Total Racing Expenditure Cap (TREC). It was scrapped after only one season.

Championships

Three separate V8 Supercar series exist. The primary series is the "Level One" championship called the 'V8 Supercar Championship Series'. A "Level Two" championship, referred to as the Fujitsu V8 Supercar Series, was originally intended for privateers who formerly raced in the Level One series but have been left behind by increasing pace of the professional teams, however, some "Level One" teams run secondary teams in the Fujitsu series to "blood" new drivers or as a secondary income stream for drivers without a team of their own. The only way to compete in the "main game" is to purchase a licence from an existing team (TEGA are no longer involved in creating new licences for V8 teams).

A third series for older V8 Supercars, the Shannons V8 Touring Car National Series, was held for the first time in 2008. Running on the programme of the Shannons Nationals Motor Racing Championships, V8 Supercar Australia have no involvement in the running of this series.

Talks with the Supercar Championship authorities have started with a view to establishing a circuit tournament in Asia - predominantly in China, where the sport gained a boost in popularity after a Supercar race featured in Asia.[citation needed]

Race formats

Each round in the series follows either a sprint- or endurance-race format. All rounds include practice, qualifying, and racing in some form.

Warm up

A warm-up session of about 20 minutes takes place before the endurance races.

Practice

Practice sessions normally happen over a single two-hour session for sprint races; over two half-hour sessions - or four sessions of varying lengths - for enduros.

Qualifying

Qualifying includes two legs. Leg 1 takes 20 minutes, with all drivers competing (30). Leg 2 is 15 minutes long and includes 20 of the drivers from the previous session. The top 10 drivers then compete in a "Top Ten Shootout", much like the qualifying of the NASCAR Nationwide Series only with 10 cars.

L&H 500 features two qualifying sessions of 20 minutes for each driver in the entry. After the time trials there go two 14-lap races, each for an entry driver with championship points awarded at conclusion. Sum of the points for the entry determines start position at the main event. This system is a little similar to Daytona 500 qualifying procedure.

V8 Supercar first adopted the leg-based qualifying system in 2001, although have not used it consistently. 2008 saw a return to this method, utilising a system much the same as Formula One. 2009 has seen the return of a NASCAR style top ten shootout for the top ten grid positions.

In 2009 a controversial rule change determined the drivers' starting position for the entire race meeting from their qualifying position. This was changed before the Hamilton 400 to a system with separate qualifying sessions for each race.

Endurance races

The Phillip Island 500 involves a single race run over a distance of 500 km (311 miles). Compulsory pitstops are taken for tyres, brake-pads, driver changes and fuel.

The Bathurst 1000 comprises a single race run over a distance of 1000 km (621 miles) (161 laps of the Mount Panorama circuit), with the same rules for pitstops. The teams are given 24 tyres per car for the weekend.

2010 will see the beginning of the Gold Coast Supercarnivale which comprises of two 300 km races over the weekend. Each car will be piloted by two drivers, with up to 17 international drivers being invited to participate in the event.

Clipsal 500

The Clipsal 500 consists of two races run over a distance of 250 km (155 miles) (78 laps) each with compulsory pitstops for both fuel and tyres. The teams are given 16 tyres for the weekend.

Sprint races

From 2009, for all other rounds, two races over 200 km (125 miles) each take place across the weekend. Pit-stops are not compulsory, as they have been in the past, however every team must put in a minimum of 50 litres per race. The longer race format and E-85 fuel blend compared to previous years mean the cars must refuel to be able to complete race distance. From rounds 2-7 of 2006, the second race of the sprint round was made a reverse grid race, in an effort to spice up the action. Unfortunately, this initiative was unpopular with fans, drivers, and team owners, because it was expensive (repairing cars that otherwise wouldn't have been damaged), and didn't really make the racing any better. Teams are given 12 tyres per car for the weekend.

Marquee events

The Bathurst 1000, Clipsal 500 and Phillip Island 500 are the marquee events of the V8 Supercar calendar. In 2005 there was also a marquee round in Shanghai, however the promoter discontinued with this race in 2006.

2008 Safety Car

Bathurst 1000

Known as the "Great Race", the Bathurst 1000 is a traditional 1000 km test of drivers, teams and machines held at the Mount Panorama Circuit in Bathurst, New South Wales. It has been the pre-eminent domestic motor racing event in Australia for decades - well before the development of the V8 Supercar category. It is conducted over 161 laps, on a track that features two long straights, that contrast with a tight section of fast blind corners across the top of the mountain.

In the early years, the race was open to almost anybody with a car that met (considerably more relaxed) regulations and held an Australian motorsport licence. The resulting wide variety of cars, driver talent, and budgets ensured that large margins split the placings. In the modern V8 era, the field has consisted of professional teams only.

The introduction of the safety car, which brings the field together when an accident makes the track unsafe, has radically changed the nature of the race. But Bathurst has always been an intensely tactical race, hinging on pit stop strategy (fuel economy, tyres, etc) driver talent and outright overall speed.

The 2006 Bathurst 1000 became a very emotional event to all drivers, teams, friends and fans of one of its greatest drivers in its history, 9 time winner of the "Great Race", Peter Brock (killed in the Targa West rally event the month before). The inaugural and perpetual Peter Brock Trophy was handed out to eventual race winner Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup. An emotional Lowndes, who was a protégé of Peter Brock, dedicated his win to his mentor.

V8 Supercars Australia will ban fulltime drivers from racing together at the endurance races, including Bathurst, under a new proposal for 2010.[7]

Jamie Whincup celebrating winning the 2008 Clipsal 500.

Clipsal 500

The Clipsal 500 is held in Adelaide on a shortened version of the former Grand Prix Circuit. The event in the heart of the city has a carnival atmosphere, and crowds of over 200,000 racing fans and socialites turn out each year. Two 250 km races are held on each of Saturday and Sunday, and this has proven to be a very successful format. It is the first event to be inducted into the V8 Supercar Hall of Fame and is a winner of various awards. While the trophy presentation is centred around the results of race two, the round winner is decided by points accrued from both races. In 2009 the two races were formally separated.

Phillip Island 500

The 500 kilometre (312.5 mile) Phillip Island 500 endurance race is held at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit in Victoria. The race is sponsored by Lawrence & Hanson and is known as the L&H 500.[8]

The race takes over from the Sandown 500 after the Sandown round was downgraded to a sprint round in 2008 because of the condition of the facility.[9][10]

Grand Finale

AVESCO created a special season ending round. Initially this round was held as the thirteenth championship event in late November at Eastern Creek Raceway near Sydney. It was sponsored by VIP Petfoods and was branded 'The Main Event'. The round was won by Marcos Ambrose in a fitting conclusion to his 2003 championship win, but made headlines when Ambrose's teammate Russell Ingall and Holden Racing Team rival Mark Skaife spectacularly brought the sport into disrepute with an on-track/off-track stoush. In 2004 the event became known as the 'Bigpond Grand Finale', and was again held at Eastern Creek - won again by Marcos Ambrose. In 2005 the venue moved to the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit as the final round of the championship and the base for Russell Ingall's series win. In 2006, the event was known as the 'Caterpillar Grand Finale'. Todd Kelly won in controversial circumstances, with two race wins (race one and two) and a fifth placing (race three). His brother, Rick Kelly, won the championship after he was given a drive through penalty for a collision with title contender, Craig Lowndes. The collision caused Lowndes major steering damage that required Kelly only to finish the race to win the championship. However the championship was not decided until the day after in a court appeal in Melbourne in which Lowndes' Triple 8 Engineering team lost.

2008 saw the event moved to Oran Park Raceway as a dual finale for both the 2008 series, and the veteran Sydney circuit whose closure was imminent. For 2009 the new Sydney 500 event held the Grand Finale, with James Courtney winning the race.

Hall of Fame

The V8 Supercar Hall of Fame was instituted in 1999 with new recipients added each year at the end of year prizegiving ceremony held just after the final round in December. Recipients have mostly not been V8 Supercar drivers but from the Australian Touring Car Championship era and have been multiple winners of the ATCC or the Bathurst 1000. The controversial exception was in 2005 when the Adelaide 500 race was inducted.

Organisation

V8 Supercars Australia manages, markets, and promotes the V8 Supercars sport. It is a joint venture between Touring Car Entrants Group of Australia (TEGA - 75%) and Sports & Entertainment Limited (SEL - 25%).[11] It is run by an eight member board. Four representing TEGA, two representing SEL, and two independent directors.[12][13]

It was founded in 1997 under the name the Australian Vee Eight Supercar Company (AVESCO). TEGA was responsible for the rules and technical management of the series and the supply of cars and drivers while SEL was responsible for capturing and maintaining broadcasting rights, sponsorship, licensing and sanction agreements.[11] In 2005 it changed its name to V8 Supercars Australia to make it more identifiable with the sport.[5][6] In 2008 the separate boards of V8 Supercars Australia and TEGA were combined into a single board that is solely responsible for administering the sport.[12][13]

Television coverage

The V8 Supercars are broadcast by Channel Seven who secured the rights from the 2007 season onwards, taking over from Channel Ten, who had successfully broadcast the events since taking over from Seven in 1997. The deal is worth roughly AU$120 million. Channel Seven will show increased live coverage, as well as a weekly 25-minute show specific to the series on non-racing weekends. The coverage however is produced by V8 Supercar Television, a specialist production vehicle for V8 Supercars Australia.

Coverage of all rounds in New Zealand was provided by Television One until the end of the 2007 season at which time coverage transferred to TV 3.

The Series is filmed in Widescreen Digital and has six cars carrying in-car cameras with each having 4 or more mini cameras. However this is down on last year where eight cars carried cameras.

Records

Driver championships Driver round wins Driver starts Team round wins Manufacturer round wins
Pos. Driver Titles Pos. Driver Wins Pos. Driver Starts Pos. Team Wins Pos. Manufacturer Wins
1 New South Wales Ian Geoghegan 5 1 New South Wales Mark Skaife 39* 1 Tasmania John Bowe 225 1 Holden Racing Team 69 1 Holden 182
Queensland Dick Johnson 5 2 Victoria (Australia) Peter Brock 37 2 New South Wales Mark Skaife 216 2 Dick Johnson Racing 44 2 Ford 161
New South Wales Mark Skaife 5 3 Victoria (Australia) Craig Lowndes 33 3 Victoria (Australia) Peter Brock 212 3 Holden Dealer/Advantage Racing 37 3 Nissan 25
4 Victoria (Australia) Bob Jane 4 4 Canada Allan Moffat 32 4 New South Wales Glenn Seton 207 4 Gibson Motor Sport 35 4 BMW 15
Canada Allan Moffat 4 5 Victoria (Australia) Jamie Whincup 23 5 Queensland Dick Johnson 202 5 Allan Moffat Racing 34 5 Chevrolet 10
New Zealand Jim Richards 4 6 Queensland Dick Johnson 22 6 Queensland Tony Longhurst 191 6 Triple Eight Race Engineering 32 6 Mazda 8
7 Victoria (Australia) Peter Brock 3 New Zealand Jim Richards 22 7 South Australia Russell Ingall 176 7 Stone Brothers Racing 21 7 Volvo 5
Victoria (Australia) Craig Lowndes 3 8 Western Australia Garth Tander 20 8 New Zealand Steven Richards 168 8 Glenn Seton Racing 17 8 Jaguar 4
9 4 drivers tied with two championships each 9 New South Wales Glenn Seton 17 9 Victoria (Australia) Craig Lowndes 165 9 HSV Dealer Team 16 9 Porsche 2
10 2 drivers tied with 15 races each 10 Victoria (Australia) Larry Perkins 160 10 Perkins Motorsport 13
Note: bold text indicates active drivers, teams and manufacturers.
Note: The above records relate to the Australian Touring Car Championship (1960-1998), the Shell Championship Series (1999-2001) and the V8 Supercar Championship Series (2002-2009)
* Note: it has been claimed in some quarters that Mark Skaife has 40 wins. This was based on an incorrect interpretation of the relevant supp regs and has since been corrected.

See also

References

External links

Series
Teams







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