The 2016 calendar has thrown up some great results. Tyre-to-tyre racing, and with just Two Rounds left in the V8 SuperCars Series, the title has yet been secured.
As the standings are, this Championship is as tight as ever. Results from the last round on the Gold Coast confirmed the first placed driver position, but his lead has been diminished and it can all be changed in the turn of one corner.
Coates Hire Leaderboard
— Supercars (@supercars) October 24, 2016
Teams and drivers all set their sights on next weekend, when the ITM sponsored second to last round will fire into life. Raced at Pukekohe, the iconic Auckland racetrack layout allows for some of the fastest racing of the year. In the past, it has been a place to command good points and has seen fast drivers establish strong records. Greg Murphy being one who always planted his right foot down hard on race day.
Looking back on previous results, the same core drivers are still performing; 2015 ITM 500 Auckland Results: (1) Jamie Whincup, (2) Craig Lowndes, (3) Scott Pye
Changes to the races schedule have made this years New Zealand round a pure ‘sprint series’. All out speed will be rewarded [no co-Driver changes] with a packed four race weekend which is now more frenetic. So the same can be expected on the track, as series contenders jossle for crucial points.
ITM Auckland SuperSprint, November 4-6
Four races, 35 laps each (total 140 laps)
- DAY ONE
- 3 practice sessions across Friday
- DAY TWO
- 11:40am Saturday – Qualifying Race 24 (10 minutes)
- 12:05pm Saturday – Qualifying Race 25 (10 mins)
- 2:45pm – Virgin Australia Supercars Championship Race 24 – 35 laps
- 4:45pm – Virgin Australia Supercars Championship Race 25 – 35 laps
- DAY THREE
- 11:40am Sunday – Qualifying Race 26 (10 minutes)
- 12:05pm Sunday – Qualifying Race 27 (10 mins)
- 2:45pm – Virgin Australia Supercars Championship Race 26 – 35 laps
- 4:45pm – Virgin Australia Supercars Championship Race 27 – 35 laps
After that weekend, the table will surely have been shuffled. Many will say that a Kiwi is the hometown hero. So it might be van Gisberg Scott Mclaughlin, Fabian Coulthard, Scott Pye or young Andre Heimgartner that have the home flag to fly.
On the other hand, when has hometown status counted for much? Whincup has a fine record there, as does Lowndes. Winterbottom and Garth Tander. Not being a mind-reader, Last Word On MotorSports can only project that it will be a super-competitive round, just have all the ones before.
Final Round in Sydney
That will take us to the final round of the 2016 series, the Coates Hire Sydney 500, December 2-4. The schedule is still to be confirmed, but fans can expect two days of fearsome street-track racing. In 2015, there was a combination of sprint races Saturday, and a massive 74 lap race Sunday, so expect something similar to Auckland to complete the season.
In 2015, it all came down to a thrilling conclusion, with the Holden’s again holding their form. This time, van Ginsberg took it to Red Bull Racing in a drive that impressed many. Holding off Whincup, it demonstrated the impending form the Kiwi would bring to his new team–while Rick Kelly crossed in third place, with series winner Winterbottom claiming fourth, in front of David Reynolds.
Sydney Street Circuit
In 2016, the circuit’s car wrecking concrete and chicanes will again test the metal of all. By December, van Gisberg could either hold a sizable lead–or he the Red Bull driver may have been drawn into a tight battle with Whincup, Lowndes or even Mclaughlan or Will Davidson.
Holden would seem again to be the leading force, with a Volvo involved to make the others ‘look over their shoulders’. That is not to say that a Ford or Nissan might bring extra speed to Auckland or to Sydney. The only problem for those drivers, is that they cannot claim the Championship.
In years gone by, a driver outside the running is usually asked to ‘do the honorable thing’. Etiquette in race car driving is a personal choice. Team orders may be given, but in the heat of the moment, a driver is charged to place his car on the podium. Lose that sense, and you should hang-up your gloves and helmet.
All to race for by years end
No, V8 SuperCars followers will be assured that even if their favourite driver has little chance of claiming the title, he must put his car into the corner first. Drive hard, drive fair and by the flag-fall, the best driver will stand tallest.
When the dust is settled, a champion will be crowned. If that is the Kiwi driver, then it will be his first title. If Whincup shows stronger speed, than he will achieve a seventh title–putting him above other esteemed driver names. And then it could be another name; if the results go their way. It is still all to be won.
May the best driver prevail in the next two rounds of the 2016 V8 SuperCars Series.