2017 Virgin Australia Supercars Championship season preview
The 2017 V8 Supercars Championship season, for the second year under the name of Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, would be the 19th running of the premier Australian racing competition since the Australian Touring Car Championship was converted into the Supercars Championship.
Fourteen rounds, new venue for season’s finale
Compared to the previous season, the format of the championship remains the same, with 14 point-paying rounds and one non-championship round as a supporting event to the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix. The championship will be traditionally opened with Clipsal 500 at Adelaide Street Circuit. The season-closing event will be the Newcastle 500 at Newcastle Street Circuit instead of Sydney 500 at Homebush Street Circuit.
2017 Virgin Australia Supercars Championship calendar
|1||March 2-5||Clipsal 500||Adelaide Street Circuit, Adelaide, South Australia|
|-||March 23-26||Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix||Melbourne GP Circuit, Albert Park, Melbourne, Victoria|
|2||April 7-9||Tyrepower Tasmania SuperSprint||Symmons Plains Raceway, Launceston, Tasmania|
|3||April 21-23||WD-40 Phillip Island 500||Phillip Island GP Circuit, Phillip Island, Victoria|
|4||May 5-7||Perth SuperSprint||Barbagallo Raceway, Perth, Western Australia|
|5||May 19-21||Winton SuperSprint||Winton Motor Raceway, Benalla, Victoria|
|6||June 16-18||CrownBet Darwin Triple Crown||Hidden Valley Raceway, Darwin, Northern Territory|
|7||July 7-9||Townsville 400||Townsville Street Circuit, Townsville, Queensland|
|8||July 28-30||Coates Hire Ipswich SuperSprint||Queensland Raceway, Ipswich, Queensland|
|9||August 18-20||Red Rooster Sydney SuperSprint||Sydney Motorsport Park, Eastern Creek, New South Wales|
|10||September 15-17||Sandown 500||Sandown Raceway, Melbourne, Victoria|
|11||October 5-8||Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000||Mount Panorama Circuit, Bathurst, New South Wales|
|12||October 20-22||Gold Coast 600||Surfers Paradise Street Circuit, Surfers Paradise, Queensland|
|13||November 3-5||ITM Auckland SuperSprint||Pukekohe Park Raceway, Pukekohe, New Zealand|
|14||November 24-26||Coates Hire Newcastle 500||Newcastle Street Circuit, Newcastle, New South Wales|
Sixteen Holdens, six Fords, four Nissans
Twenty-six full-time drivers will be on the starting grid again but the number of manufacturers continues to decrease. After Mercedes-Benz left the championship in 2016, Volvo will be missing in 2017. Among 26 cars, there will be 16 Holden VF Commodores, six Ford FG X Falcons and four Nissan L33 Altimas.
New Gen2 Supercar regulations are becoming valid in 2017, allowing manufacturers to use two-door coupe body styles and turbocharged four- or six-cylinder engines. However, new rules didn’t attract new manufacturers so far.
Volvo left the championship, GRM switched to Holdens
There will be many changes among drivers and the team on the grid. Garry Rogers Motorsport switched from Volvo to Holden, retaining James Moffat in the team. His teammate would be Garth Tander, who moved from Walkinshaw Racing/Holden Racing Team.
Former Tander’s teammate James Courtney remains in the #22 Holden of Walkinshaw Racing. As a replacement for Tander, Scott Pye moved from DJR Team Penske. On the other side, DJR Team Penske invited Scott McLaughlin as a replacement for Pye, alongside Fabian Coulthard, who will stay in the #12 Ford.
Triple Eight Race Engineering as Holden’s factory team
The major Australian car manufacturer decided to cooperate with Triple Eight Race Engineering as the official Holden factory team, instead of Walkinshaw Racing, which became a customer team. A result of such a decision is that Jamie Whincup and defending champion Shane van Gisbergen will compete under the name of Red Bull Holden Racing Team. Craig Lowndes and his #888 Holden remains under TeamVortex name.
Jason Bright also changed a manufacturer, moving from Brad Jones Racing’s Holden to his own Britek Motorsport, to drive #56 Ford prepared by Prodrive Racing Australia. Some of the drivers who stay with their respective teams are Tekno Autosports’ Will Davison or Prodrive Racing’s Mark Winterbottom and Chaz Mostert.
Simona de Silvestro – the first ever female full-time entry
Among all changes and novelties, there is one milestone fact which would mark the 2017 season as a historic season. Simona de Silvestro joined Nissan Motorsport to become the first female full-time driver in a history of the championship. After participating last year at Bathurst 1000 with Nissan, sponsored by Harvey Norman, the Swiss driver gets sponsor’s support for a complete season to drive the #78 Nissan Altima for Team Harvey Norman.
Alex Rullo – the youngest ever V8SC competitor
One more record is set with naming Alex Rullo as Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport’s full-time entry in the #62 Holden, so the 16-year-old driver from Perth becomes the youngest ever V8 Supercars competitor. The team intended to nominate Matt Chahda as the second driver, but he was denied a Superlicense from CAMS (Confederation of Australian Motor Sport).
2017 Virgin Australia Supercars Championship entry list
|2||Walkinshaw Racing/Mobil 1 HSV Racing||Holden VF Commodore||Scott Pye|
|3||Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport||Holden VF Commodore|
|5||Prodrive Racing Australia/The Bottle-O Racing||Ford FG X Falcon||Mark Winterbottom|
|6||Prodrive Racing Australia/Monster Energy Racing||Ford FG X Falcon||Cameron Waters|
|7||Nissan Motorsport/carsales Racing||Nissan L33 Altima||Todd Kelly|
|8||Brad Jones Racing||Holden VF Commodore||Nick Percat|
|9||Erebus Motorsport/Penrite Racing||Holden VF Commodore||David Reynolds|
|12||DJR Team Penske/Shell V-Power Racing||Ford FG X Falcon||Fabian Coulthard|
|14||Brad Jones Racing/Freightliner Racing||Holden VF Commodore||Tim Slade|
|15||Nissan Motorsport/Sengled Racing||Nissan L33 Altima||Rick Kelly|
|17||DJR Team Penske/Shell V-Power Racing||Ford FG X Falcon||Scott McLaughlin|
|18||Charlie Schwerkolt Racing/Preston Hire Racing||Holden VF Commodore||Lee Holdsworth|
|19||Tekno Woodstock Racing||Holden VF Commodore||Will Davison|
|21||Tim Blanchard Racing-BJR/CoolDrive Racing||Holden VF Commodore||Tim Blanchard|
|22||Walkinshaw Racing/Mobil 1 HSV Racing||Holden VF Commodore||James Courtney|
|23||Nissan Motorsport||Nissan L33 Altima||Michael Caruso|
|33||Wilson Security Racing/Garry Rogers Motorsport||Holden VF Commodore||Garth Tander|
|34||Wilson Security Racing/Garry Rogers Motorsport||Holden VF Commodore||James Moffat|
|55||Rod Nash Racing-PRA/Supercheap Auto Racing||Ford FG X Falcon||Chaz Mostert|
|56||Britek Motorsport-PRA/MEGA Racing||Ford FG X Falcon||Jason Bright|
|62||Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport||Holden VF Commodore||Alex Rullo|
|78||Nissan Motorsport/Team Harvey Norman||Nissan L33 Altima||Simona de Silvestro|
|88||Triple Eight Race Engineering/Red Bull Holden Racing Team||Holden VF Commodore||Jamie Whincup|
|97||Triple Eight Race Engineering/Red Bull Holden Racing Team||Holden VF Commodore||Shane van Gisbergen|
|99||Erebus Motorsport/GB Galvanising Racing||Holden VF Commodore||Dale Wood|
|888||Triple Eight Race Engineering/TeamVortex||Holden VF Commodore||Craig Lowndes|