A new era in the V8 Supercar Championship gets underway this weekend with Adelaide hosting the Clipsal 500 as the first of 15 rounds of the 2013 series in front of the largest domestic motorsport event held in the country.
V8 Supercar grid
All records are expected to be broken this year as the stars and cars fight for supremacy with the introduction of the “new breed” Car of the Future specification V8 Supercars—Nissan and Mercedes have joined traditional rivals Holden and Ford on the grid in the new-look V8 war, igniting massive interest in this year’s series.
The introduction of an identical “control chassis” has put enormous pressure on teams in the off season, building new cars in time for Adelaide.
The Kelly Racing Team is now backed by the Japanese automaker Nissan. After 18 months of development the Kelly’s believe their Altima Supercar can race at the front early in the season.
Meanwhile, the flamboyant motorsport enthusiast Betty Klimenko has taken the reins at stable formerly known as Stone Brothers Racing, running three Mercedes race cars at newly named Erebus Motorsport. Lee Holdsworth will lead the fight for Erebus, the two-time race winner will be joined by young gun Tim Slade and German recruit Maro Engel.
Four time series champion Whincup has the number one plate firmly bolted to the Triple 888 Commodore, although with the introduction of the all-new Holden and Falcon race cars, and Mercedes and Nissan, on the grid for the first time a crystal ball would be beneficial in predicting the outcome of this year’s series.
Ford Performance drivers Mark Winterbottom and Will Davison put some real pressure on Whincup last season and others, including Ford defector Shane van Gisbergen, both the Kelly Brothers, Rick and Todd, and the Mercedes of Holdsworth, have the ingredients to finish at the pointy end of the field.
The all-powerful Holden Race Team are confident after a mediocre season last year. Both Garth Tander and James Courtney have spruiked hard and loud during pre-season testing that HRT are back—both have a likening for the tough street circuit.
Throw in a hard charging Jason Bright for TeamBOC, who topped the time sheets at the recent test day in Sydney and the 2013 season should be a beauty for Holden.
Adelaide Clipsal 500
The 2013 Clipsal 500 will be the 15th epic event, staged on the world renowned 3.2-kilometre street circuit in the heart of Adelaide. Delivering South Australia’s largest annual sporting event, over its 14-year history, the Clipsal 500 Adelaide has attracted 2.5 million patrons.
Over a quarter of a million patrons are again expected trackside over the four days this year – the 2012 event was attended by a massive crowd of 280,800 at the picturesque Victoria Park Circuit.
The former Formula 1 street circuit is touted as one of the best in the world. Shortened from its original Grand Prix length by 700 metres to 3.2 kilometres, the circuit is very busy from inside the cockpit – a concrete cauldron with little room for error presents a significant test for drivers in twin 250 km races, which are both physically and mentally demanding and tough mechanically on the 600 hp Supercars. Apart from the run down the long back straight, drivers get very few opportunities to relax.
The significance of the Clipsal 500 as an event of true national and international fame was highlighted in 2005 when the legendary motor sport authority Murray Walker, while visiting the event for the first time, described it as the “best touring car event in the world”.
The 2013 V8 Supercar field is being touted as the strongest ever, with eight to 10 drivers with a realistic chance of winning in Adelaide. Technical regulations have achieved a parity of performance that will see the top 20 cars in Adelaide qualify hundredths-of-a-second apart, with the entire field covered by a mere one to two seconds. Taking victory on the streets of Adelaide has often in the past delivered a team and driver with a solid platform for the entire season.
The winner of the Clipsal 500 has gone on to win the V8 Supercars Championship six times. Craig Lowndes did it in 1999, Mark Skaife in 2002, Marcos Ambrose in 2004 and Jamie Whincup in 2008, 2009 and 2011.
Graham Jacobs is a Motorsports writer based in NSW, Australia.
Epoch Times publishes in 35 countries and in 21 languages. Subscribe to our e-newsletter.