Motorsport: V8 Supertourers

By Eric Thompson

Different rules for the last time at the old Pukekohe track.

V8 SuperTourers field at Hampton Downs. Photo / V8 SuperTourers
V8 SuperTourers field at Hampton Downs. Photo / V8 SuperTourers

The V8 SuperTourers are in action for the second of their long distance races at Pukekohe next weekend and fans will have to get their heads around a change of the qualifying format for the International 500.

The new system appears to make a lot more sense than the complicated system used at the last round in Taupo on September 1-2.

The series is starting with a clean slate for the second of the long distance rounds, and also introduces one race on Saturday and two on Sunday.

Each driver must now take part in at least one practice session, though only one driver needs to qualify the car. Two drivers can run in qualifying if the team so chooses, but it is the fastest time achieved by the car that counts.

The starting order for race one will be sorted by a qualifying session establishing the grid order from 11th back to 20th.

Then a top 10 shoot-out similar to the V8 Supercars will be held. Each car will post a flying lap with the 10th fastest car starting first.

That's race one sorted.

For race two - the first event of Sunday morning - the grid is set by the finishing order of the previous day's race.

Race three's starting order is different again and you need a calculator here.

The grid for the final race on Sunday will be determined by the total championship points scored by the car in race one and two.

Either driver can grab the steering wheel for the start of any of the races, but teams have to nominate the wheelman for all three races at least 30 minutes after the end of the top 10 shoot out.

The drivers will fight it out over 53 laps in the first two races, and three will be extended to 70.

In an effort to make it easier for fans to know who's behind the wheel, V8ST have followed the Australian cousins and put driver indicator lights on the cars.

The light will be on when the main driver is in the car and off when the co-driver takes over.

No refuelling is permitted during the races.

"We want the adrenalin factor for the fans to be the best possible and that's why we have had a fresh look at the qualifying format," said chief executive Didier Debae.

Several support classes will be joining the fray. They include the V8 Challenge Cup, the new XtremeSport and GT class Central Muscle Cars and the Motul Honda Cup.

Racing on Saturday will also be followed by a concert at the track featuring Kiwi band The Feelers.

Forty drivers - including up to 18 who competed at Bathurst recently - will race at the meeting, and because of the changes planned for the V8 Supercars return next year, this could be the last time V8 cars race on the traditional circuit layout.

"It's an iconic event known around the world because of the Benson and Hedges 500," said Debae. "I came to New Zealand to race the 500 with Tom Walkinshaw in 1985. It's an event drivers from around the world know.

"It's the New Zealand Bathurst, you could call it. It's a great venue for a championship and it's the last time we will race on the circuit as it is known."

- NZ Herald

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