Supercars to hold secret night test at Sydney Motorsport Park
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Supercars will hold a secret night test at Sydney Motorsport Park on Thursday as part of plans to light up Eastern Creek next year with a historic midweek evening race.
Chief executive James Warburton has confirmed Supercars is looking to follow the worldwide sporting trend of creating a short-format version of its sport that could be played out midweek and under lights.
Temporary floodlights will be set up around sections of the Western Sydney track on Thursday night when Ford driver Fabian Coulthard and Nissan rival Simona De Silvestro take part in a three-hour trial.
Ahead of this weekend's Supercars round starting at Eastern Creek on Friday, Warburton yesterday said he was intent on bringing night racing to Sydney.
"We want to create something unique and we are always looking to innovate and grow the sport," Warburton said.
"The runaway success of the Big Bash has shown people are looking for new, short forms of sporting entertainment, without necessarily taking away the traditions of the sport.
"Cricket has suddenly found a whole new audience and, importantly, encouraged kids to grab a bat and a ball. And the Big Bash lives comfortably within the traditional fabric of the game."
Turns three, four, eight and 11 at Sydney Motorsport Park will be lit up.
"This is the first step in testing a series of different light sources with real race cars at real race speed," Warburton said.
"There are many variables, none the least the speed of the cars at certain points and the quality of our broadcast pictures for our fans and networks.
"But we are very confident of finding the right, cost-effective way to light the entire circuit at a television standard."
Supercars has not raced under lights in Australia since 1996 when the championship went to Calder Raceway in Melbourne.
The last night race was held in Abu Dhabi at the Formula One purpose-built Yas Marina course.
"If you recall when we raced under lights in Abu Dhabi the cars were absolutely amazing," Warburton said.
"That's clearly on of the best facilities in the world. Our lighting will certainly not be that good, but we hope good enough to tick the right boxes."
Warburton confirmed that a championship night race could be held in Sydney as soon as next year.
"It will be a maximum of a three-hour event in 2018," Warburton said.
"It will count for championship points and most likely we will be looking to run the event on a Thursday night.
"At this stage it's all conceptual but if the test is successful we want it in the schedule for 2018 and beyond."