The 2019 Virgin Australia Supercars Championship will start a day earlier than expected, with a Thursday practice session scheduled for the Superloop Adelaide 500 on February 28.
It will mark the first time the main game cars have hit the track on the Thursday, which has been run exclusively for support categories since the event expanded to four days in 2003.
The 30-minute Thursday session will be held in the twilight; a precursor to evening ARMOR ALL Qualifying and racing action on the following two days.
That move is designed to encourage spectators to make their way to the city event after work and see the Supercars stars on track.
“Staging the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship on all four days of the Superloop Adelaide 500 is a real coup,” Minister for Tourism, Trade and Investment, David Ridgway said.
“The extra practice session on Thursday is just one of the many ways we are creating more value for ticket holders."
With the extra 30-minutes of practice added on Thursday, Friday's two practice sessions have been cut from 40 to 30 minutes each.
Friday evening’s 20-minute qualifying then precedes a 30-minute practice on Saturday – increased by 10 minutes from 2018 – an ARMOR ALL Top 10 Shootout and 250km twilight race.
A Supercars twilight race was held at the event in 2014
Sunday’s format remains unchanged, with a 20-minute qualifying before a Top 10 Shootout and the 250km second leg.
One of the major drawcards for the 2019 event is the debut of the Ford Mustang in the Supercars Championship, replacing the Falcon.
Recently-crowned 2018 Supercars champion Scott McLaughlin will be among six drivers in Mustangs, and is looking forward to tackling the street circuit in the new car.
“Testing so far has been successful and we can’t wait to get behind the wheel under race conditions in Adelaide,” he said.
“The twilight sessions will provide a new challenge for all of us drivers in Adelaide.
“The circuit is a tough one anyway, so I'm looking forward to the additional test.
“Adelaide always delivers intense, wheel-to-wheel racing and 2019 will be no exception.”
Supercars has staged a Saturday twilight race in Adelaide once before, in 2014, with a near-7pm start for the second of two 125km heats.
The race launched McLaughlin to national stardom, scoring a podium on Volvo’s debut, before inadvertently swearing during a post-race interview on live television amid the excitement.
Superloop Adelaide 500 track schedule (subject to change)
Thursday 28 February
Morning Session (9.30am – 12.30pm):
Afternoon Session (12.30pm – 4pm):
Twilight Session (4.00pm – 6.45pm):
Friday 1 March
Morning Session (9.30am – 12.15pm):
Afternoon Session (12.20pm – 4pm):
Twilight Session (4pm – 7.30pm):
Saturday 2 March
Sunday 3 March:
Afternoon Session (12.20pm – 5.30pm):