Saturday Night Lights

Published: 01 August 2018
It’s time to turn the lights on in Sydney.
It’s time to turn the lights on in Sydney.

Pictured: It’s time to turn the lights on in Sydney.

The SuperNight is finally here! This Saturday night, the lights will be turned on at Sydney Motorsport Park for race 21 of the 2018 Virgin Australia Supercars Championship.

With the journey set at 300kms, which equates to 77 laps, it’s the longest single-driver event in Supercars history, and the highest point-scoring race outside of enduros. It’s a big one.

Our last two ‘night’ races have treated us well. The last official night race was in 2011 at Abu Dhabi. On debut with the Holden Racing Team, James Courtney took out the win in a nail bitter.

The last unofficial night race we had was at Albert Park earlier this year, when Scott Pye took his maiden Supercars win under the cover of darkness as the Melbourne sun set.

Night racing throws a heap of new elements into the mix. Everything feels faster, there will be cabin lights and dash lights to deal with and track temperatures will be much cooler than during the day. Whilst navigating all of that, Scott and JC will still have to muscle a 650hp beast around the track against 25 other drivers.

Add to that the distance and time of day, driver fatigue becomes a factor, and concentration levels will have to be sky high.

JC and Scott will get a look and feel for the lights on Friday night in practice 1 in a 40-minute session, however, there won’t be much time to muck around. With the three-part knockout qualifying format in use this weekend, the top-10 times combined from practice 1 and 2 will advance directly into stage 2 of qualifying, so setting a quick time becomes very important.

The second session practice session will be run on Saturday morning, before qualifying that afternoon, and the race at 7:20pm AEST.

Strategy during the race is also going to play a huge part. All running will be done on the Super Soft tyre, which means degradation as well as fuel numbers will play a part.

It all adds up to look like one heck of a race, and one heck of an event on paper. We can’t wait.

Scott Pye

“I’m really looking forward to the SuperNight. The last race the finished in the dark is one I’ll never forget, so another result like that would be nice.

“Adjusting to the little things was important during that race and will be again heading in to the weekend. It’s the stuff you usually don’t have to think about like the brightness of dash lights and the sponsor screen in the middle.

“QR was disappointing but we’ve got to move on from it pretty quickly. This race is crucial in terms of points, so a strong showing is really important.”

James Courtney

“This event is going to be cool. Back in my home-town, under lights, it’s going to be awesome.

“I did a light test there not long ago, and the visibility is great for drivers and great for fans, so it’s going to look great.

“300kms is a long race where a lot can play out, so it’s going to be very interesting to see how it all unfolds, I can’t wait.”