Supercars Championship reveal weird, interesting 2019 calendar
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The Virgin Australia Supercars Championship have unveiled a revised calendar for next year's series. And there have been a whole bunch of big changes (you can view the full calendar below).
The main one sees Sydney Motorsport Park disappear from the calendar. This is after the venue replaced the Homebush street circuit for 2018, and was at the centre of a high-profile night-race format. SMP (formerly Eastern Creek) has always struggled for attendance, but 2018's night event appeared to be well supported.
Supercars say that Sydney will return to the series in 2020, as part of the category's move to a more summer-orientated future calendar.
In its absence, the night-race format shifts to Barbagallo Raceway in Perth — racing again finishing on Saturday. Neat, but the five-hour time difference between Perth and New Zealand might make it a hard watch for Kiwi race fans.
New Zealand's ITM SuperSprint round at Pukekohe Raceway is also part of the changing dates. Now instead of it being after the PIRTEK Enduro Cup (Sandown 500, Bathurst 1000, Gold Coast 600) it will be beforehand. Teams will travel from The Bend (August 23–25) to Auckland (September 13–15) with a three-week gap in between.
Things then heat up for a totally different endurance title line-up. Instead of being nestled between two smaller events, the Supercheap Bathurst 1000 comes first. This means teams won't get to use the Sandown event to acclimatise co-drivers — instead they will get thrusted straight into endurance battle at the biggest weekend of the year.
After Bathurst will come the Vodafone Gold Coast 500 (yes, 100km shorter than previous years), and the Sandown 500 becomes the calendar's penultimate event.
Nonetheless the series' CEO, New Zealander Sean Seamer, is happy with the changes.
"We're really happy with how it's turned out," he told supercars.com.
"We've been able to get some events into better windows, which was a key priority from a ticketing point of view. We've found better opportunities to get clear air from a broadcast point of view as well.
"If you look at where Sandown's sitting, that gets us away from the NRL and AFL finals in September. In general, we're really happy with the overlay, where the events sit but also the flow between the events, which means teams can navigate the country a little bit easier.
"And where necessary we've added some innovation around going back-to-back with Tasmania and Phillip Island."
2019 Virgin Australia Supercars Championship calendar
Adelaide 500 — February 28-March
Melbourne 400 — March 14-17
Tyrepower Tasmania SuperSprint — April 5-7
WD-40 Phillip Island 500 — April 12-14
Perth SuperNight — May 2-4
Winton SuperSprint — May 24-26
BetEasy Darwin Triple Crown — June 14-16
Watpac Townsville 400 — July 5-7
Ipswich SuperSprint — July 26-28
The Bend SuperSprint — August 23-25
ITM Auckland SuperSprint — September 13-15
Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 — October 10-13
Vodafone Gold Coast 500 — October 25-27
Sandown 500 — November 8-10
Coates Hire Newcastle 500 —November 22-24