Motorsport: Vroom! Return of the big V8s

By Eric Thompson

Volvo has just revealed its V8 Supercars vehicle for the upcoming season.
Volvo has just revealed its V8 Supercars vehicle for the upcoming season.

This season's V8 Supercars drivers and cars are being unveiled this weekend at the Sydney Motorsport Park, and although the field has been reduced to 25 cars from the 28 of the last few seasons, V8 Supercars chief executive James Warburton is bullish about the quality of racing fans will see this year.

His enthusiasm and positive note has been backed by the recent announcement of a six-year, A$240 million ($261 million) media deal with Foxtel, Fox Sports and Ten Network for all media rights, including digital, from 2015 to 2020.

Three racing entitlement contracts from Tony D'Alberto Racing, FFF Racing and Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport did not meet the deadline to enter the championship.

The remaining 25 entrants, including the return of Volvo to the sport with two S60s, will be seen for the first time at the V8 Supercars test day at Sydney Motorsport Park.

"The quality and depth of this field is without doubt one of the best we have had," said Warburton. "V8 Supercars continues to produce one of the largest grids by any global standard which will assure that we continue to see the remarkable racing, multiple race winners and close finishes that we did last year." '

Defending champion Jamie Whincup heads the field in his No 1 Red Bull Racing Australia Holden as he resumes his battle with teammate Craig Lowndes and Ford Pepsi Max Crew's Mark Winterbottom.

Kiwi Scott McLaughlin and Swede Robert Dahlgren will steer Volvo's return to the sport after the announcement that Dahlgren would join one of the sport's brightest stars. Volvo has a rich heritage of motorsport in Australia, having won the 1986 Australian Touring Car Championship with another New Zealander Robbie Francevic in a Volvo 240T.

Last season was the 15th anniversary of Volvo winning Australia's most famous race, the Bathurst 1000 in 1998 with Kiwi Jim Richards and Swede Rickard Rydell in a Volvo S40.

Nissan Motorsport's driver line-up remains unchanged, while Will Davison, who ran third behind Whincup and Lowndes last year, switches to Erebus Motorsport V8, joining Lee Holdsworth.

The team will again run four cars with Jack Daniel's Racing's Todd and Rick Kelly and Norton Hornets' James Moffat - who took a race win at Winton last year - and Michael Caruso. The Nissan crew has a new aero package for this season, and is hoping the reduced drag will improve performance.

Nissan Motorsport and Erebus Motorsport V8 are expected to make big gains after their debut season. Erebus has secured last year's third-placed Will Davison, who joins Lee Holdsworth at the second-year outfit.

One of last year's success stories, Chaz Mostert, moves to Ford Pepsi Max Crew and highly regarded fellow youngster Scott Pye joins veteran David Wall in the Dick Johnson Racing-prepared Wilson Security Ford Falcons.

Jack Perkins, son of Australian motorsport great Larry Perkins, returns to a fulltime drive in the Team JELD-WEN Ford Falcon prepared by FPR, replacing Alex Davison.

Another of last year's front-runners, Gold Coast 600 winner David Reynolds, returns in The Bottle-O Racing Team Falcon, also prepared by FPR.

Tim Slade replaces veteran Russell Ingall in the Supercheap Auto Racing Holden prepared by Walkinshaw Racing in the same stable as Holden Racing Team's Garth Tander, James Courtney and 2012 Bathurst winner Nick Percat.

Ingall returns for another season with Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport in the Repair Management Australia Commodore.

Brad Jones Racing will continue with last year's form pairing of Jason Bright for Team BOC and Fabian Coulthard for Lockwood Racing.

Dale Wood will pilot the Advam Racing entry, also raced out of the BJR stable. Coulthard's fellow Kiwi Shane van Gisbergen lines up in the now single car entry of Team Tekno VIP Petfoods.

For the Australian F1 Grand Prix, the category has introduced a change to the race format.

Each race will have a double-file rolling start and drivers will line up side by side for safety car restarts.

In a tie-in with the F1 event, the final race of the weekend will be worth double points, like the final race of the Formula One world championship in Abu Dhabi.

Drivers won't have a chance to relax in any of the first three races, as a rolling points system will decide the starting grid for each subsequent race.

"The new V8 Supercars race format at the Australian Grand Prix is sure to add excitement and action to the event," said Lowndes.

"Arriving at the first corner after a rolling start is certainly going to be interesting - I think it'll be more important than ever to be at the front of the field and out of trouble."

The first race of the season is in Adelaide on March 1 and 2, and the circus is in New Zealand from April 24 to 27.

V8 Supercars Calendar

February 27-March 2 Clipsal 500 Adelaide
March 13-16 2014 Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix
March 28-30 Tasmania 400
April 4-6 Winton 400
April 24-27 ITM 500 Auckland
May 16-18 Perth 400
June 20-22 SKYCITY Triple Crown Darwin 400
July 4-6 Townsville 500
August 1-3 Coates Hire Ipswich 400
August 22-24 Sydney Motorsport Park 400
September 12-14 Wilson Security Sandown 500
October 9-12 Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000
October 24-26 Armor All Gold Coast 600
November 14-16 Phillip Island 400
December 5-7 Sydney 500

- NZ Herald

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