WITH the ‘V8’ soon to be removed from the V8 Supercars Championship brand, WA petrolheads could consider this weekend’s Barbagallo Raceway leg something of a goodbye party.
As announced last month, the event will be re-named the Supercars Championship from July 1 as the sport sets itself to welcome V6 turbo engines and two-door coupes into the field next year.
Change is most definitely afoot in the highly popular series and local fanatics will already see some alterations across the Friday to Sunday schedule of the Perth SuperSprint this year.
The Supercars event will run over two races, instead of three, for the first time in seven years.
Previously the Perth meet had two 100km races and a 200km contest, but this year drivers will compete across a 120km and 200km showdown.
WA Sporting Car Club general manager Robert Janney said the Supercars organisers “keep trying new concepts”.
“The distance they cover will be about the same,” he said.
“They do the longer race, which means they’re going to have to do a pit stop for a dash of fuel and tyres just to spice it up a little bit. A lot of people don’t like that sort of racing, but we’ll see how it goes.
“It’s been fairly close this year… it’s still anyone’s chance to take it out.”
Janney made particular mention of the Australian GT Championship, which will feature in Perth for the first time as a support event to the Supercars. The GT series boasts luxury makes such as Ferrari, Mercedes and Porsche.
The high-end vehicles outdo the V8s for speed.
“They sound completely different to a V8 Supercar,” Janney said.
“They’re a little bit quicker… probably about two-and-a-half to three seconds a lap quicker.
“They’re all hi-tech cars… very light weight with lots of aerodynamics to hug them to the ground so we expect a lap record to be set this weekend by them.”
Perth supporters will also be drawn to the Dunlop Series, second tier to the V8 Supercars, with a number of WA drivers competing, including 15-year-old future star Alex Rullo.
Rullo hoped to finish in the top 15.
“It’s definitely an advantage to be racing at home, as I have done millions of laps around the track, so hopefully I can get some good results out of it,” he told v8supercars.com.au.
And it could be a test of endurance for motorsport fans across the Friday and Saturday, with the event extending into the night hours with the Australian Drift Grand Prix for the first time.
As for the main event, Janney said it was like a lottery trying to pick which Supercars driver would be successful in Perth.
With rain forecast, the track could produce some surprises.
All-time championship record holder Jamie Whincup leads the table by a small margin from young New Zealander Scott McLaughlin.
Janney tipped the younger drivers to have an impact in Perth, mentioning names such as 26-year-old Shane van Gisbergen and 27-year-old Nick Percat.
V8s legend Craig Lowndes will again attempt to become the sole record holder of most race wins at one track.
Lowndes has won 15 times in Perth, equal with Mark Skaife’s 15 wins at the defunct Oran Park in Sydney.