SYDNEY - Next year's V8 Supercars championship series will begin with a Middle East double-header, but November's planned races in Bahrain have been called off.
V8 bosses have announced a new stage in Abu Dhabi to start the season in February next year, with Bahrain's Desert 400 the following weekend.
The championship leg in Abu Dhabi will be held from February 18-20 at the brand new Yas Marina Circuit in the Gulf nation.
The decision means this November's race in Bahrain has been re-scheduled for the start of next year with a replacement race in Australia to be announced at this weekend's Phillip Island 500 in Victoria.
"In very good faith the BIC (Bahrain International Circuit) generously agreed to withdraw this year's race from the calendar in order for us to come back a little over three months later," V8 Supercars executive chairman Tony Cochrane said.
"It would have been feasibly impossible for us to travel to the Middle East with all our requirements twice in such a short space of time."
To get cars and equipment valued in excess of $50 million to the Gulf nations, a purpose-built 747-400 will be used for the two week period.
Cochrane said holding both Middle East rounds within the space of a week would also be an attractive proposition for Australian fans looking to travel to the region.
"As a result we expect an increasing number of Australian V8 fans to take this unique opportunity and make the week long trip to the region next year for the opening two rounds of the championship," he said.
The traditional opening event of the V8 Supercars calendar, the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide, will be the first Australian event of 2010 from March 11 to 14.
The Desert 400 round in Bahrain will also feature a new format in 2010, with two 200km races replacing the previous three races run at the Sakhir Circuit.
Abu Dhabi Motorsports Management chief executive Richard Cregan says the Emirate was looking forward to watching V8 Supercars in action.
"These are cars that we all see on the streets of Abu Dhabi, everyday," Cregan said.
"On the track, spectators and viewers will witness some of the most sensational wheel-to-wheel racing imaginable."
V8 Supercars Australia will announce the remainder of their 2010 championship calendar, including a new mid-season break, at this weekend's round at Phillip Island.