Who will win? Only time will tell, but one thing is for sure, it will be an even playing field for all the V8 drivers and teams, as none of them have ever raced at the $1 billion dollar facility before.
The marine-side track was designed by renowned circuit architect Hermann Tilke. The V8s will use a slightly shorter version of the circuit compared to the track that Formula 1 raced on in November last year.
V8 Supercar chairman Tony Cochrane and a group of V8 delegates went to Abu Dhabi late last year to finalise details of the event, and while Cochrane was there, he got to lap the track a number of times – albeit a little slower than the speeds the V8 Supercars will be pulling.
“It is without doubt the world’s finest motor sport circuit. It’s amazing,” Cochrane said.
“I did several laps of the track – and it’s mind boggling. Our cars are going to look awesome there. With the attitude of our cars, we’re going to be able to get three-wide around parts. There’s some great overtaking parts. It really is a tremendous place to open the championship.”
The V8 Supercars will compete in two 200km races, both starting in the late afternoon (Abu Dhabi time) for a twilight finish. It will be the first-ever twilight V8 race, and the first time the category has raced under lights since Calder Park in 1997 – ironically, the first meeting held by ‘V8 Supercars.’
“The quality, the care, the attention that’s gone into that whole facility is out of this world,” he said.
“We’re really looking forward to doing our first day/night race on such a fantastic complex. The lighting and everything is terrific.
“The circuit that we’ve going to use features the corkscrew, which has got a 15 metre drop in elevation. It’s an absolutely cracking circuit. “
But if you don’t believe Cochrane’s hype of the track, you might believe Mark Webber. The Australian Red Bull Formula 1 driver finished second at the track in the inaugural Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and he semi-praised the new facility while he was there last year.
“The track’s pretty good – it’s not Spa, but it’s also not Bahrain! It’s not bad,” he said.
“There was a difference in clarity between driving in the afternoon and in the early evening – it’s a different atmosphere when the lights are on.”
The opening round of the V8 Supercar Championship Series will be held on February 18-20, followed a week later by the Desert 400 at Bahrain.