The V8 Supercar Championship Series is headed for a record early start and a nine-week mid-season break in 2010, following the release of the official schedule at Phillip Island this weekend.

Executive chairman Tony Cochrane revealed that the season will have a distinctive autumn and spring phase to it, after last week announcing that racing would start with a ground-breaking Middle East double-header at Abu Dhabi and Bahrain in February. The earlier start has compacted the two-half season, with ten events up until mid-June, a nine-week break and six events to finish the season, culminating with the Sydney Telstra 500 in December.

"The earlier start gave us a great opportunity to tighten up the regularity in which we race, but also give our teams an all-important rest in the middle of the year," Cochrane said, "It gives our TV viewers a much needed, more regular viewing pattern.

"The board and I are extremely happy with the outcome, and ecstatic that we have expanded the calendar to 16 events, including the non-championship Australian Grand Prix. We look forward to some further announcements concerning the AGP in the future months. It's great news for the sport and for our teams and, with more racing than ever, for our fans!"

Cochrane also said that starting in the Gulf region, at Yas Marina on 18-20 February and then heading to the Desert 400 in Bahrain the following weekend was an enormous result for the sport and its international footprint.

"To add Abu Dhabi and the incredible Yas Marina Circuit is just tremendous. We can't wait to get to one of the world's most rapidly expanding regions and economies," he said, "That they have been able to work alongside our great friends at BIC to establish this partnership has been wonderful. It's a brilliant place, amazing circuit and sensational organisation."

Cochrane announced that a potential late season 'replacement' for the moved BIC event, scheduled for 5-7 November, would be announced in the coming week following ongoing negotiations.

"As we have received our sanction fee for this year's Bahrain event, we are looking to use the replacement round as a charity fund raiser," he revealed, "At this stage, until we can confirm our future requirements, both Perth and Queensland Raceway are provisional dates on the 2010 calendar."

In other calendar movements, the Falken Tasmania Challenge has been moved to November from this year's May date, while the Norton 360 Challenge at Sandown has also been shifted to the more weather-friendly date of 19-21 November, slotting the BigPond Perth 300 to a more workable June date. The moves also enable a 'top end loop' for teams to curve around the country from Perth to Darwin and Darwin to Townsville in one movement..

The provisional 2010 V8 Supercar Championship Series calendar is as follows:

February 18-20 Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi
February 25-27 Desert 400, Bahrain International Circuit
March 11-14 Clipsal 500, Adelaide#
March 26-28 Australian Grand Prix, Albert Park
April 16-18 ITM Hamilton 400, Hamilton
April 30-May 2 Queensland Raceway#*
May 14-16 Winton#
June 4-6 BigPond 300, Barbagallo*
June 18-20 SKYCITY Triple Crown, Hidden Valley
July 9-11 Dunlop Townsville 400, Townsville#
September 10-12 L&H 500, Phillip Island
October 7-10 Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000, Mt Panorama#
October 21-24 SuperGP, Surfers Paradise
November 5-7 Falken Tasmania Challenge, Symmons Plains
November 19-21 Norton 360 Sandown Challenge, Sandown#
December 3-5 Sydney Telstra 500, Homebush#

* denotes provisional date; # denotes Fujitsu V8 Supercar Series support