It was the incident that marred an otherwise exciting edition of the Bathurst 1000, and now Supercars and their governing body have dished out further sanctions to DJR Team Penske for their breach of FIA rules.
As predicted, the Supercars calendar for 2020 will only feature 14 events and a streamlined schedule as the category aims to provide more racing for fans trackside and not.
Supercars’ 60th season won’t see Queensland Raceway or Phillip Island on the calendar, though the return of Sydney Motorsport Park welcomes another night race alongside the existing Perth event.
Also turning on the lights in 2020 will be the Gold Coast 600, with a major upgrade set to take place at the Surfers Paradise street circuit and artificial lighting to be installed. Already a challenging event in the Enduro Cup, racing in the night will add another dimension to the Gold Coast, which also returns to its traditional place at the end of the enduros.
South Australia’s The Bend, as mooted, will be promoted to enduro status, taking over from Sandown as the 500km pre-Bathurst endurance race in September. The suburban Melbourne circuit thankfully does retain a place on the calendar in 2020 – as a SuperSprint event in the warmer month of November.
A rejigging of the SuperSprint format for 2020 has also been a significant component of the streamlined calendar, with the 120km Saturday races being upgraded to 200km, which is the same as the Sunday races. Similar compulsory pit-stop rules then will apply across the revised SuperSprint weekends, with a minimum of two pit-stops and 120 litres of fuel being required to complete the race.
Long have the shorter Saturday sprints been a detractor in a Supercars weekend, with longer racing and pit-stops proving to produce more entertainment. In theory, then, the SuperSprint weekends should feature better racing as a result of increased variables.
As well as having 11 Top 10 Shootouts, the remainder of the SuperSprint weekends will feature the popular three-part elimination qualifying format that debuted this year. All barring the Australian Grand Prix undercard event, which keeps its four separate ten-minute qualifiers for each of the 100km sprint races.
It is the spread between rounds, though, that really serves as the winner for 2020. Unlike previous seasons when there was a real inconsistency of breaks in between rounds, most rounds will have a consistent two-week break plus a proper mid-season break across July and August.
Having rounds in quick succession was great, as there was Supercars on more often, though it came at the expense of a scarcity of races during the middle to latter chunk of the season. A more balanced spread, as seen in the 2020 calendar, will serve to build anticipation around each round – without completely depriving fans of racing at multiple points during the season.
Other key changes to the calendar have been the shift of the Auckland SuperSprint back towards the top of the season, to coincide with the Anzac Day weekend. What is already a special weekend for both Australia and New Zealand, as well as the major footy codes, will be made more special with a Supercars race on Saturday April 25.
Five events will also feature the new parc fermé regulations, which made their debut at two race meetings this year. Key events to welcome parc fermé in 2020 will be both the SuperNight rounds in Perth and Sydney.
This could possibly be the most attractive calendar that Supercars has seen in years and the philosophy of less is more is going to be the key.
The structuring and formats of the racing in 2020 will prove to be the winner for the fans.