Drivers declare new ‘awesome’ SMP lights ‘a big step up’

Sydney Motorsport Park’s permanent lights debuted this weekend

Supercars drivers say Sydney Motorsport Park has made ‘a big step up’ with its new permanent lights since the last night race in 2018, giving the upgrade a tick of approval.

After the inaugural Sydney SuperNight two years ago took place under temporary floodlights, $16 million has been invested in the circuit to install 138 lighting fixtures.

Race 10 of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship marked the first time racing has taken place under the new lights, albeit, not at full capacity.

Most of the perimeter lights were up and running, however, some infield lights weren’t operational and were supplemented with portable floodlights.

When the championship returns at the season-ending Sydney SuperNight, the system will be fully operational and feature themed lighting.

Penrite Racing driver Anton De Pasquale gave the new set-up his endorsement.

“It’s a big step up in lighting from last time, just the way they’ve done the lights especially in the main straight, everything is very stadium-like,” said De Pasquale.

“That actually carries over to the other side of the track anyway so the lighting’s heaps better than it was.”

Despite suggestions that racing at night might prove difficult to see reference points, De Pasquale said he had no issues.

“To be honest, once you get going, you hardly even remember it’s dark,” he said.

“The lights are quite good. All your markers and everything you have from the dry running are there.

“It feels a bit more comfortable with the heat and everything in the car but other than that, to me it all feels pretty much the same.”

The front straight features lights capable of 800lux with colour theming while lights around the circuit are capable of 400lux.

Truck Assist Racing driver Lee Holdsworth echoed De Pasquale’s sentiment labelling the new set-up as “just amazing” after the first race of the Truck Assist Sydney SuperSprint.

“Half the track is like daylight,” he said.

“The new stadium lighting is just amazing. But then we go to the temporary lighting around the back and that is a heap better than the last time.

“You don’t have the dark spots, there’s no real inconsistencies around the back. It is definitely a change from the stadium lighting as you can expect but I think they’ve done a great job.”

Holdsworth said he’d like to see more night racing in the calendar, suggesting Hidden Valley Raceway, which has lights along the drag strip, as an option.

Qualifying for Race 11 of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship at Sydney Motorsport Park gets underway at 10:45 local time/AEST.

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