Pepsi Max FPR’s Mark Winterbottom has praised changes to next year’s formats and twilight racing at this year’s Sydney 500.
The Sydney 500 – running from December 6 to 8 – will stage a twilight race, with Saturday’s race, the season’s penultimate, set to begin at 5.10pm AEST and run until 7.30pm.
Winterbottom backs the move – as many in pit lane have since discussions began earlier in the year – particularly in Sydney as it helps ease the pain of the heat for drivers and spectators alike.
“It’s a really, really good idea – especially with the heat in Sydney,” Winterbottom, who sits fourth in the Championship, told v8supercars.com.au.
“Later in the day would be perfect from a viewing spectacle … you arrive in the afternoon to watch the race– it’s a really good idea.
“Hopefully we get more of them in prime time at night, in the evening. It all makes sense. It would be pretty cool to race on TV at six o’clock at night.”
The announcement for 2014 flagged the opportunity for a minimum of five races to be staged in the twilight on the Saturday of a race weekend.
Another key change for next season is a uniform three formats, SuperSprint, SuperStreet and the current PIRTEK Enduro Cup formula, with the controversial 60/60 Super Sprint format axed.
The 60/60 has divided fans and drivers, many interpreting it as two races with the first ‘not for points’, rather than it’s intended one race with a half time break, followed by a double file rolling restart.
“I’m not a fan of the 60/60, but they had to give it a go,” Winterbottom said.
“You can only ever critique after you give it a go. But I’m glad it’s gone as it seems silly to race and then line up again and race for points.
“Tyre allocations are lower this year than ever and it really made the weekend tough for a nothing race in the first part. I’m glad it’s gone.”
The final 60/60 race will be held at Phillip Island after the conclusion of the PIRTEK Enduro Cup.
For 2014, marquee street races will now all be 500s (Townsville bumping up its distance), and SuperSprints mean two 100km races Saturday and a 200km race with fuel and tyre stops on Sundays, with the exception of the ITM 500 Auckland which has an additional 100km on the ANZAC Day weekend.
“Every sporting code has a big ANZAC Day clash, so it makes sense to go to New Zealand for ANZAC Day,” Winterbottom said.
“It gives the race a little bit more meaning as well.
“AFL has a big clash – Collingwood and Essendon is a massive occasion – so again it will add history to the race… with a big sporting event and more passion.”
Other notable changes include a return to Sydney Motor Raceway (Eastern Creek) after Texas has been pushed back a year after a calendar clash.