Warburton ‘never giving up’ on night racing
V8 Supercars CEO James Warburton remains optimistic that night racing will return to the calendar as soon as next year.
The championship’s 2016 schedule has been largely bedded down, with Malaysia’s KL City Grand Prix pencilled in for August, pending final sign-off on the four-year deal.
The Malaysian race will increase the calendar to 16 race meetings, including the non-championship Australian Grand Prix.
Finalising a new deal with the Western Australian government to continue at Barbagallo and determining whether any events will take night time slots meanwhile remain works in progress.
While twilight formats were run at the 2013 Sydney 500 and 2014 Clipsal 500, flood-lit V8 Supercars racing has not taken place on Australian soil since 1997.
Sydney Motorsport Park and Queensland Raceway have both been mooted for possible night fixtures in recent years, with the former seen as the strongest possibility.
Circuit caretakers the Australian Racing Drivers’ Club put a feasibility study to the state government earlier this year, seeking funding for an $8 million permanent lighting project.
“There are two permanent circuits that are still pitching the idea,” Warburton told Speedcafe.com of night racing.
“It’s expensive but I’m never going to give up on it.
“I’ve told the (NSW) Minister we’ll be there for three consecutive nights to do effectively what we do at a Super Sprint round.
“We are keen for those discussions to continue. At this point in time it is still far from done.”
V8 Supercars has focussed on reducing the number of lengthy gaps in its calendar for next year, compacting the campaign into nine months with a single mid-season break.
The season is again set to begin with the Clipsal 500 Adelaide in March before concluding with the Sydney 500, which will be brought forward from December to November.
“Very rarely outside of time to go to Perth or Darwin and a dedicated mid-year break will there be more than a three-week gap between events,” said Warburton.
“The calendar is still subject to FIA approval and confirmation from the Western Australian Government, but we are not expecting any surprises there.
“We haven’t got it (the calendar) right this year but we are committed to fixing it for 2016.”
The category’s pre-season Sydney Motorsport Park test is expected to be held later in February than it was this year, when it controversially clashed with the Bathurst 12 Hour.
V8 Supercars meanwhile remains hopeful that its Australian Grand Prix support races will finally be run for championship points next year.
Although V8 Supercars and the Australian Grand Prix Corporation have both been on board with the plan, final sign-off rests with Formula One Management.