Thunder road: Garth Tander hurtles around the Olympic Park course. Photo: Supplied
V8 Supercars' season-ending Sydney 500 in December will preview the introduction of several twilight races in next year's new-look series.
As well as adopting three standardised event formats, the 14-event V8 championship next year will include at least five Saturday races that finish in early evening fading light. As a precursor to next year's more regular twilight races, the first 250-kilometre leg of the Sydney 500 at the Olympic Park street circuit on December 7 will be run from late afternoon to the approach of sunset.
V8 Supercars confirmed the Saturday race switch to a dusk finish this year with the release on Monday of next year's series schedule, which will feature up to seven Saturday races finishing near nightfall.
The Sydney 500's new twilight opening race will start at 5.10pm and end by 7.30pm, and will be shown live by the Seven Network. It is timed to finish about 30 minutes before sunset to ensure there is enough light to race in overcast conditions.
The events to include Saturday twilight races next year and their timings will be finalised in the new year following consultation with Seven, which will broadcast them on one of its three channels.
As well as the Sydney 500, other big two-race street circuit events such as the season-opening Adelaide 500 in early March and the Gold Coast 600 in late October are likely candidates for their Saturday races to be run in early evening.
''We would like to think those massive, marquee street races could become twilight events on the Saturday evening,'' V8 chief executive James Warburton said. ''If you look at the events where the sun sets quite late, there is potential for five or more events to include a twilight component.
''We will investigate all of those and speak to the parties involved, including Seven, before we make those decisions.'' There will be no V8 events outside Australasia next year after the decision to postpone a return to the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, until 2015.
The track hosted V8 racing's first visit to the US in mid-May, but it is staging the X Games at that time next year, and an alternative date that worked for both V8s and the track was not available. Despite V8's poor record of holding onto events on other continents, Warburton is adamant Texas will be reinstated, possibly twinned with a second event in the region.
''There is genuine interest from other North American venues,'' he said. ''We will decide with COTA on the best approach to the 2015 event to make it bigger than this year's success, on and off track.''