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Supercars set to race at Sandown until 2019

Sandown Raceway will host the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship until 2019 under an agreement announced by Supercars.

Supercars Chief Executive James Warburton made the announcement during the Wilson Security Sandown 500 'Retro Round’ in Melbourne.

The three-year agreement between Supercars and the Melbourne Racing Club is subject to FIA approval of the track at the end of the 2017 event.

The historic raceway in Melbourne’s south-east has hosted touring car racing since 1964 and is the traditional lead-in race to the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000.

This year it is hosting Supercars’ inaugural Retro Round with teams sporting special, one-off liveries celebrating the heritage of the ‘60s, 70s, 80s and 90s,

“This is one of the most historic events on our calendar and we are delighted to extend our partnership with Sandown,” Mr Warburton said.

“Our fans enjoy coming to Sandown and...


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Read more: Supercars set to race at Sandown until 2019

Tiny margin decides fastest

Just two ten-thousandths of a second separated six-time champ Jamie Whincup from young talent Scott McLaughlin in the final practice session at the Wilson Security Sandown 500.

It was the final all-in session before the cars qualify, and the first run for the primary drivers since yesterday’s early practice.

McLaughlin sat at the top of the times for plenty of the session before Whincup’s 1min.08.9245sec lap.

The Kiwi believes there is more time in his Volvo, while Whincup pointed out the difference in conditions at the Victorian circuit today.  

“There’s nothing in it, that’s what happens week in week out, you try and be on the right side of that call,” Whincup said of the close margin.

“There’s a big difference in conditions today with the wind and it's much warmer than yesterday… a big balancing act going on with the engineers.”

Shane van Gisbergen came in third after co-driver...


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Mostert fires first shot

Chaz Mostert has delivered the first blow in qualifying, leaving co-driver Steve Owen to start from pole position in the first of the qualifying races at Sandown.

The unique format means that even though Mostert topped the session with his 1min08.6147, he’s only completed one part of the task.

The co-drivers will race for 60km to set a grid for a main drivers’ race, which will determine ARMOR ALL Pole Position.

Mostert’s retro Supercheap Auto Racing Falcon popped up the order with less than five seconds remaining in the session, topping Jamie Whincup by 0.0084sec.

“That was seriously hard ... I had to dig deep in that last one,” Mostert said.

“One third of the job is done, we got that first lap … but in the race the car hasn’t been this strong, these races will be a good test for us for tyre life.”

He and Steve Owen are paired up for the first time in this year’s Pirtek Enduro Cup...


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Read more: Mostert fires first shot

Richards leads co-drivers

2015 Bathurst-winning co-driver Steven Richards has topped the co-driver only practice session at the Wilson Security Sandown 500.

The four-time winner at Mount Panorama, who pairs with Craig Lowndes, recorded a 1min09.7418.

Tony D’Alberto, in the DJR Team Penske Shell liveried car, was just one tenth behind – he shares with Scott Pye. 

The fastest time in the primary drivers’ session was a 1min09.1233 set by Fabian Coulthard.

It wasn’t a completely smooth session, with the Freightliner Racing Commodore stopped on track with five minutes to go, triggering a red flag.

Co-drive Ash Walsh was able to get it fired back out and while Brad Jones Racing checked the electrics, couldn’t find the cause of the issue.

After the chequered flag, Todd Kelly’s co-driver Matt Campbell was stranded out on track.

There was plenty of action at turn one with the co-drivers slipping off the road as they...


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Read more: Richards leads co-drivers

As good as new

Just 90 days after fracturing his pelvis, knee and breaking multiple ribs in a shocking 96G crash, Preston Hire Racing’s Lee Holdsworth returned to the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship today at the Wilson Security Sandown 500.

Stepping from the car after first practice, Holdsworth said he was excited to return to the racetrack in his Holden Commodore. He is now pain free and aiming to reinvigorate his season with standout results across the Pirtek Enduro Cup.

His co-driver Karl Reindler contested the last round at Sydney Motorsport Park in Holdsworth’s absence, and has miles under his belt preparing for the long-distance races.

“Obviously it has been a long time for me out of the seat,” Holdsworth said after this morning’s half hour session. 

“The body feels great, car feels good, so I feel like this is the point of the year we can try and salvage something.

“We’re all on zero...


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Read more: As good as new
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DJR Team Penske backs up

Tony D’Alberto has backed up DJR Team Penske driver Fabian Coulthard’s speed earlier today by clinching the top tine in the second co-driver only session.

Partnering Scott Pye, D’Alberto sat atop the times for plenty of the first session and in the second half-hour run was able to take the honours this afternoon at the Wilson Security Sandown 500.

He joins DJR Team Penske for the first time and while the Falcons have had inconsistent results, the team is confident this event and Bathurst could suit the car.

D’Alberto set the top time, a 1min09.1656 midway through the session and on his last lap got within two-tenths of the time.

His time pipped Steven Richards by 0.0622sec, though the TeamVortex driver, paired with Craig Lowndes, was pleased with where he ended the session.

“We’ve been working on the car pretty hard making it a nice race car –who knows what conditions we’ll get...


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DJR Team Penske “on a mission”

DJR Team Penske co-driver Tony D’Alberto is certain the team will soon be a force to be reckoned with in the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship.

After a long relationship with Walkinshaw Racing, D’Alberto has switched to co-drive with Scott Pye this year and while the team is still finding its feet as a two-car operation, the former full-timer knows just how determined DJR Team Penske is to win.

“Walkinshaw Racing, they’re serious about their business as well – but DJR Team Penske are definitely on a mission,” D’Alberto said after topping the day’s second co-driver practice session.

“They’re certainly on a mission, pushing very hard and trying not to leave any stones unturned – just trying to win races and beat Triple Eight.

“We’re not quite there just yet but they’re giving us every opportunity to perform, so I’m very grateful for that.

“These guys, they will be a force in the...


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Read more: DJR Team Penske “on a mission”

CAMS Foundation Rising Star relaunched for 2017

The CAMS Foundation has announced the launch of the CAMS Foundation Rising Star program for 2017.

CAMS Foundation Director Mark Skaife was at Sandown Raceway this morning to launch the 2017 CAMS Rising Star program, which last fielded a campaign in 2013.

“It’s an honour to launch such an important initiative as the CAMS Foundation Rising Star to support our next generation of Australian racing drivers,” Skaife said. 

“We’re excited at the CAMS Foundation to see who will join such names as Daniel Ricciardo, Will Power, James Courtney, Will Davison, Scott Pye, Matthew Brabham and Jack Le Brocq as CAMS Foundation supported drivers.”

Macauley and Skaife 2016 Sandown

Up to four drivers will be eligible to receive a $50,000 scholarship to be used in the 2017 CAMS Jayco Australian Formula 4 Championship.

The scholarships will be made available for two rookie and two championship contending racing drivers.

“The CAMS Jayco...


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Coulthard lands first blow

DJR Team Penske’s Fabian Coulthard has recorded the fastest lap in opening practice at the Wilson Security Sandown 500.

His 1min09.1233 lap bettered Prodrive’s Chaz Mostert by 0.0858 seconds in a critical half-hour session.

Practice One is the first of three sessions today, but is the only one the primary driver is allowed to contest, with co-drivers taking over for the afternoon.

It was a clean session though drivers pushed the limits of their Supercars, with Red Bull Shane van Gisbergen and Jamie Whincup close in positions three and four and Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport young gun Andre Heimgartner taking a surprise fifth.

“It’s a good start, I’d much rather be there than down the order. We’ve worked hard the last couple of weeks … and were fortunate enough to have a test day so hopefully it puts us in good stead.”  

Both DJR Team Penske cars are embracing ‘retro round’ with...


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Read more: Coulthard lands first blow

Frosty: Sandown will be crucial

Supercars 2015 champion Mark Winterbottom writes exclusively for supercars.com, tackling the hot topics as he mounts his title defence. Frosty believes this year’s enduros will have a bigger impact on the championship than ever before, but he isn’t worried about taking home the #1 quite yet.

It’s funny our sport, the way it can change week in week out. Normally if you have a bad round your confidence is down, but I actually feel really good about Sandown this weekend. 

We need to have a good result – one more bad one and we’re in a bit of trouble. But if Sandown’s good to us like it has been in the past, we’re definitely back in it.

I’m not ever too worried about the championship, to be honest.

Sydney Motorsport Park was a tough one results-wise, but it’s not a big confidence killer – you just have to come back, back yourself, back the team and I know the car will be good at Sandown,...


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Read more: Frosty: Sandown will be crucial

Red Bull Racing Australia goes retro

The Red Bull Racing Australia team has embraced the retro theme at this year’s Wilson Security Sandown 500, with the entire crew turning back the clock and stepping out in full costume. 

Branded jackets have been traded for tweed and team polos are being swapped for shirts and ties, as the drivers and engineers hark back to the post-war Grand Prix era of the 1950s and ‘60s.

With the team’s mechanics donning old-fashioned overalls, the whole Red Bull Racing Australia team would have looked suitably at home at the 1962 Sandown International Cup, the first motor race held at the prestigious venue, which attracted the likes of Stirling Moss and Bruce McLaren.

“Sandown has a great history in our sport and this is an opportunity to give another special feel to one of our events – these are the things that separate us from other Touring Car Championships around the world,” said team owner...


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Read more: Red Bull Racing Australia goes retro

Hino Engineer Preview: Sandown

The enduros throw up more challenges than any other race in the season – that’s part of the reason Red Bull engineer David Cauchi counts the team’s 2014 Sandown win as one of his best.

“2014 was a big achievement – we are one of only two cars to win the Sandown 500 from starting on pole,” he told supercars.com.

“You would think starting from pole is a good thing but history tells you otherwise – we were very pleased to prove history wrong.”

Working as a team is key to tackling the races, given all the variables that need to be considered.      

“There are a lot of elements that go into winning an endurance race. You have to do a lot of forward thinking and you are making a lot more decisions over the duration of the race compared to shorter races.

“You can make a call on lap 20 that changes what you can or can’t do on lap 80. So it is important to use the support crew around you to...


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Read more: Hino Engineer Preview: Sandown

Nissan considers line-up for 2017

Nissan Motorsport’s 2017 driver line-up is far from locked away, according to team co-owner and driver Rick Kelly.

At today’s press conference, the brand announced its commitment to Supercars and the Kelly’s team for two years, confirming front-running Altima driver Michael Caruso would continue on with the squad across that period.

While driver and co-owner Todd Kelly expressed his desire to race on, Rick said neither brother was a certainty moving forward as the team weighs up options for 2017.

2010 champion James Courtney has been linked with the team, as well as incoming female racer Simona De Silvestro, who has been confirmed for three years in the category, though her team is yet to be announced. Nissan is running a fifth car to field the wild card entry she shares with Renee Gracie at Bathurst this year, switching from racing a Prodrive Ford next year. 

Dale Wood races in the...


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Poll: Best retro livery

The Virgin Australia Supercars Championship celebrates 50 years of history by turning the first of the endurance races into ‘retro round’.

Teams have gotten into the spirit with 13 cars sporting old-school liveries and some donning retro team uniforms for this weekend’s Wilson Security Sandown 500. 

Off-track, fans will enjoy a classic car display featuring many of the racing cars of bygone eras and there will be a special retro ‘Fashions on the Field’ on Sunday with prizes for those best dressed.

Teams have taken inspiration from various eras in Australian Touring Car racing – which look is your favourite?

55

Chaz Mostert/Steve Owen – Supercheap Auto Racing 

Flashing back to 2002, Mostert reinvents the livery driven by Steve Ellery, bringing back the bright purple bonnet.

"When you think about it, 2002 really doesn't seem like that long ago but the cars and the liveries already look...


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Read more: Poll: Best retro livery

The Sandown Undercard

The headline could have easily read, "The 10 drivers I'm most jealous of this weekend" but there is a fair amount of pressure on the guys who are juggling their own championship hopes with those of their co-drivers.

Supercars Dunlop Series

Jack Le Brocq (Cam Waters' co-driver)

"JLB" is leading the Dunlop Series by a handy 51 points but importantly his main championship rival and teammate Garry Jacobson is not racing in the 500. Hopefully for Le Brocq the added miles are an advantage and not a hindrance but I imagine Jacobson will be fairly keen to prove to the Supercars fraternity that he deserved a spot on the grid this year. Intriguing battle ahead.

James Golding (James Moffat's co-driver)

Fancy sharing a Supercar at Sandown with a bloke named Moffat. Golding will be pinching himself when he wakes up on Sunday morning as he gets set for his main game debut. Everyone knows there's a...


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Read more: The Sandown Undercard

Hino Sports Deck set for Sandown debut

Sports lovers at selected Virgin Australia Supercars Championship rounds will have a new place to congregate when the Hino Sports Deck makes its debut at the Wilson Security Sandown 500 in Melbourne on September 16-18.

Hino has taken its sponsorship of the Supercars Championship to a new level by transforming a 40 foot container to a pseudo-sports bar, complete with five TV screens, a dedicated kids’ area, fuseball, and even a phone recharge station.

“The Hino Sports Deck will be a unique feature at the Supercars rounds – we know that Supercars fans love sport so a 65 inch TV will feature all of the Supercars action while an additional four 49 inch screens will stream the best sport from around the world and Australia,” Hino National Marketing Manager Sarah Rosales said.

“The kids’ area will feature arcade games, a TV dedicated to children’s shows plus a screen for playing Xbox –...


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Read more: Hino Sports Deck set for Sandown debut

HRT eyes off Pirtek Enduro Cup

The Pirtek Enduro Cup is an opportunity to get a fresh start and make an impact in 2016.

That’s the perspective of Holden Racing Team boss Adrian Burgess, as the team approaches the first of the three long-distance events with this weekend’s Wilson Security Sandown 500.

While the HRT hasn’t performed as well as the team would have liked and expected this season, a positive test day, clarity on the team’s future and the foundation of a solid history at the enduros has lifted Burgess’s hopes.

Garth Tander and Warren Luff won last year’s Pirtek Enduro Cup with two third place finishes and two fourths across Sandown, Bathurst and the two Gold Coast races, while the #22 was hampered by the absence of lead driver James Courtney for the first two events.

Having recorded one race win this year, Burgess believes the enduro phase of the season is HRT’s chance to turn a tough year around.

“Our...


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Read more: HRT eyes off Pirtek Enduro Cup

Nissan commits to Supercars

Nissan has announced a continuing commitment to Australian motorsport for the 2017 and 2018 seasons.

Nissan has further committed to the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship for the 2017 and 2018 seasons. Nissan has also signed a new two-year agreement with the Kelly family-owned Nissan Motorsport race team for 2017-18 seasons. The team will continue to field four Nissan Altima Supercars.

NissanPressConference2016

Michael Caruso, driver of the #23 NISMO Nissan Altima Supercar, has also re-signed with Nissan Motorsport team for the next two years.

Nissan will return to the Bathurst 12 Hour in 2017 in an expanded two-car effort with a pair of Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 factory entries. Full team and driver details will be confirmed at a later date.

It was recently confirmed that Nissan will enter its Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 in the final two events of the 2016 Australian GT Championship at Hampton Downs and...


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Read more: Nissan commits to Supercars

Supercars welcomes Nissan announcement

We are delighted with Nissan’s announcement today that it has committed to the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship for the next two years.

The factory Nissan Motorsport team has been an integral part of the Championship over the past four years and its decision to recommit is a strong endorsement of the category.

It follows Holden’s recent decision to also recommit for another three years and reinforces the underlying strength of Supercars and its position in Australian sport.

We believe we have the best touring car racing in the world and the strength of the sport is reflected in attendances, TV ratings and fan engagement.

I want to thank Nissan Australia CEO Richard Emery and everybody at Nissan Motorsport, in particular Todd and Rick Kelly, for their ongoing support and commitment to Supercars.

These are exciting times for the sport as we head into the Pirtek Enduro Cup with...


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Read more: Supercars welcomes Nissan announcement

Nissan: Why we stuck with Kellys

Nissan Motor Co (Australia) Managing Director and CEO Richard Emery has explained why the manufacturer has chosen to stick with Kelly Racing moving forward, and how they will challenge the sport’s best in the next two years.  

Today the brand announced its commitment to the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship for at least another two years, continuing its current program with the Kelly brothers’ team.  

The team earned its first win since 2013 and second in the NewGen Supercars era in June in Darwin with Michael Caruso behind the wheel, and has shown it is capable of running at the front with improving results.  

While Emery admitted the brand considered all options in Supercars – including taking its support to another team – he believes challenging the current front-runners is important to help grow the sport.  

Emery says the current program with the Kellys is a winner.

“I’ve...


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Read more: Nissan: Why we stuck with Kellys

 

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