Motorsport: Changes to please drivers, fans

By Eric Thompson

A raft of rule changes were introduced for the 2009 Australian V8 Supercar series (see below) and already we have seen one of the more conscientious new rules changed for the New Zealand round of the championship.

After much grumbling from fans and drivers alike, the second round, being held this weekend around the streets of the Franklin District in Hamilton, will see a change in qualifying.

At the first round in Adelaide, a single qualifying session set the grids for both races but it garnered a lot of criticism. V8 officials had a rethink and have added a separate qualifying session on the second day of racing to spice things up a bit.

Although this caused a bump in the road for event director Steve Vuleta, he was able to accommodate the changes requested by the Australians and all race classes will get their chance to battle around the roads of Hamilton City.

"It was a bit of an arm wrestle to begin with to get it all to work but at the demise of absolutely nothing," said Vuleta.

"We changed the race time on Saturday from 2.35 to 3.05 so the race starts half an hour later but we also got ourselves an endurance race start procedure that means we have the cars on the grid longer."

Previously, grid positions for race one were determined during qualifying and the grid for the second race determined by the finishing order of the first race and so on.

The new system this year unfairly penalised any driver who started the race at the back of the field and fought his way up towards the front - only to be dumped to the back of the grid for race two.

The change will mean Saturday's qualifying session and top-10 shootout will decide the grid position for the first 200km race, and an additional 20-minute qualifying session on Sunday will decide the grid for the second 200km race later in the day.

This year's V8 championship has each race treated as a separate entity, rather than combining the points for the weekend to determine a round winner as has been the case.

Not only have there been some rule modifications, Vuleta has also taken on board some suggestion on modifying the circuit to improve racing. Turn three, Norton Rd to King St, has been sorted out to increase car stability through it and the chicane along King St has been cut from four to three sharp turns.

The stretch of road along King St has been smoothed out and the entry into Empire St has been widened.

"I studied the video tape from last year and the biggest issue was the fourth apex in the chicane. Drivers were hitting the third apex really hard to avoid the fourth," said Richards.

Rule changes:

* One race on Saturday and one on Sunday for 12 events.
* Individual victory to every race winner across 26 races in the season.
* A podium to recognise each of the 26 race winners during the series.
* Top Ten Shootout returns for the final leg of qualifying.
* The L&H 500 will retain two Saturday qualifying races that count for championship points but not a race result.
* No compulsory pit stop window, meaning teams can stop whenever they choose.
* There will be at least one fuel stop in every race.
* A soft compound tyre at select weekends (six in total) that teams must use at least once during the race.
* Each race, outside of the two endurance races, is worth 150 points to the winner on a sliding scale.
* Teams are free to utilise any tyre from their allocation as they see fit across an event.

- NZ Herald

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