The V8 Supercar Championship Series has received its biggest makeover in its twelve-year history after a raft of changes to the on-track rules and overall feel of events was passed ahead of the 2009 campaign.

A series of format changes, coupled with the introduction of an 85 per cent CSR ethanol blended fuel and a dual compound tyre are the most dramatic steps taken by the sport, and are designed to further build the excitement and spectacle that the V8s have exhibited in recent seasons, where the championship battle has gone down to the wire.

The emphasis of the changes is to enhance the racing, increase on-track passing opportunities, emphasise team strategy and teamwork and create a better fan experience.

"In any sport, this amount of wide-ranging changes and their respective impacts are enormous," V8 Supercars Australia CEO Cameron Levick noted, "The board has spent more than four months on this total overhaul of our racing and this is a fantastic result considering the extent of the changes. I applaud the board for their forward-thinking approach and an outcome that is great for all concerned.

"After eleven years of building itself into one of the country's biggest sporting shows, and infiltrating millions of Australian households, it was time to take the next step forward. The opportunity for change initially presented itself with the more environmentally-friendly CSR Ethanol, then morphed into a far more significant review of the entire sport and what we can do to make it better."

Out are the familiar triple-headers that made up most rounds, replaced instead by a series of double-headers which will see 26 individual races contested - and rewarded - over the course of twelve championship events. The two races, one to be staged on the Saturday of race weekends and one on Sunday, will award an individual victory to the driver crossing the line first, rather than forming part of an accumulator that previously saw the round winner declared over three races.

Indeed, all references to the term 'round' will be removed from the series, with each weekend now known as an 'event' in an effort to avoid any confusion. Each race within that 'event', outside of the two endurance races, will be worth 150 points to the winner.

Separating the championship season into 26 individual races was indicative of the intense competition that has grown up in V8 racing over recent years, and is designed to recognise that each and every victory is hard fought. Naming race weekend events and recognising individual race victories is designed to simplify the sport and give fans clear winners on each day. Where individual trophies are up for grabs, such as at the Clipsal 500 and the Hamilton 400, the first car across the line on Sunday will generally be regarded as the winner.

"With the field split by hundredths of seconds, winning a race - and the enormous amount of hard work that goes into it - should be rewarded," Levick continued, "Our teams battle every single lap for the smallest of gains, so a race win in itself is a remarkable team effort."

Qualifying will determine both Saturday and Sunday grids, with the popular Top Ten Shootout returning as the final leg of a Formula One style 'knockout' session. While the blue riband Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 and the L&H 500 at Phillip Island will remain as the only single race events counting towards the championship, the latter will retain its two Saturday qualifying races, both of which will count for points but not the overall race result, which will be determined in the 500-mile two-driver enduro on Sunday.

The board debated adding an additional qualifying session for the Sunday race before determining that the Saturday session would determine both grids as the fairest and least demanding system for the teams.

The format changes continue with the abolition of compulsory pit-stop windows, meaning that teams can stop whenever they choose, although there will be at least one fuel stop in every race. A 'soft' compound tyre will be introduced at select weekends, with teams having to use it at least once during racing, otherwise they are free to utilise any tyre from their event allocation as they see fit

"Teams will have to refuel at least once in a 100km race, and twice in a race of 200km or more, so that will really mix up the field and create far more winning opportunities," Levick reasoned, "Some teams may choose to start a race with a full tank and other may start with a small amount of fuel, race hard and then come back in to fill the tank.

"Then, on top of that, you throw in a soft compound tyre that may be several second faster per lap than a hard compound tyre.... That's what we want - faster cars, slower cars, plenty of passing and more on-track drama."

Race distances will vary from round to round - sorry, event to event - with the Clipsal 500 opening the season with a pair of 250km legs making up one race. After the non-championship Australian Grand Prix appearance, which features three as yet undetermined races, the campaign continues in Hamilton with two 200km events - a format copied for the new Townsville and Homebush events, as well as those in Bahrain and Surfers Paradise. Elsewhere, the weekends at Winton, Symmons Plains, Sandown, Queensland Raceway and Barbagallo will see a 100km event on Saturday and one over 200km on Sunday, with Phillip Island and Bathurst doing their own unique thing.



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