Include AGP in V8 Supercar points

13 March 2012
, CarsGuide
Include AGP in V8 Supercar points
It's not really wasted effort because it gives you a lot of confidence going into the next round knowing you have good car speed.

It's never been a championship round before because we could never be guaranteed enough track time.

But this year we have a championship round at Abu Dhabi where we compete alongside the F1s, so why not in Melbourne?

Abu Dhabi has fewer support categories and more time available for us. However, I wouldn't like to see organisers cut down too much on the support categories in Melbourne, as it gives the fans more entertainment variety and provides those categories with some profile.

But we've supported the F1 in Melbourne since 1996 and I believe a lot fans come along specifically to see the V8s and would like to see us competing for points, not just in exhibition races.

That's not to say the racers don't take this round seriously. You can tell from the hard racing and crashing that everyone is having a red-hot go. Our team treat it very seriously because of our connection with Vodafone and the F1 McLaren team, so all the big bosses are out here to see us perform at our best.

The F1 round also presents a great opportunity for us to experiment with some left-field set-ups that we wouldn't normally do. If you do get it wrong, at least you're not hurting your championship.

In the past, the difficulty with having Melbourne as a championship round has been that we can't get enough practice time and qualifying time. This year the format is substantially different with fewer practice and qualifying sessions but more races. In the end, it works out to a similar amount of track time. We start with two practice sessions and a qualifying session on Thursday which sets the order for an eight-lap qualifying race on Friday.

It's an interesting format where we drop off the last three cars after lap three right through to the end of the race where it's basically the top 10 cars left to thrash out the last lap. It's very similar to some supercross race formats and it should be very exciting.

I'm pretty sure it will mean there will be a lot of racing and jostling for position not just up front, but right down the back with drivers desperate to escape an early cut from the pack.

The race doesn't count toward the overall points for the weekend and, of course, the weekend doesn't count toward the championship, but it's a good experiment to see if it develops thrilling racing.

If it does, then it should be considered for future events. I suppose that's one of the advantages of this round because the organisers can experiment with race formats to get a feel and sense for whether it works and see the reaction of the drivers and fans.

How we finish in that qualifying race will determine the starting order for the second race on Friday which also establishes the starting order for the third race on Saturday. Grid positions for Sunday's final race are determined by the points accumulated in Friday's and Saturday's races.

It sounds confusing - I'm a bit confused myself - but it should help build excitement throughout the weekend and give us something to race for. The Albert Park circuit has been a pretty happy hunting ground for me with pole and round wins in 1999 and 2009 and about six race wins all up.

It's not really wasted effort because it gives you a lot of confidence going into the next round knowing you have good car speed.