Enduro Season. If you utter this phrase to most motorsport fans, they’ll have no idea what you’re talking about. However, say it in the presence of the devout V8 Supercars fans, and their ears will perk up.
Comprising of roughly the middle 25% of the V8 Supercar Championship season, the Enduros are four races spread across three events. They feature two drivers per car, and each of the races are over 100 laps each. At the end of the final race, V8 Supercars tally up all the points earned by the drivers across these events, and awards the pair with the Pirtek Endurance Cup. We’ll take a look at the three events comprising the Pirtek Endurance Cup below.
Event 1 : Wilson Security Sandown 500
First on the schedule is a 500km event across 161 laps of the 3.104km Sandown Raceway, located in Melbourne, Victoria. Located roughly 25km from the Melbourne city centre, the circuit has hosted the 500km endurance race 47 times, first between 1964 and 2007, and currently 2012 through the present day. The Sandown 500 features a unique qualifying format, with each driver getting their own 60km sprint race to set the grid.
Sandown features two long straightaways, each nearly a kilometre in length, with multiple other fast corners between them. The high speed nature of the track, with very little runoff in some areas, has seen the 500 feature some of V8 Supercars’ most spectacular incidents. Most of these occurring as the drivers crest the hill at Turn 6. Circuit map below:
2014 saw Red Bull Racing Australia’s Jamie Whincup and Paul Dumbrell take the victory in dominating fashion, grabbing pole position and then leading 150 of the 161 laps in their Red Bull sponsored Holden Commodore.
2015’s event will take place across the weekend of September 11-13, 2015
Sandown however, is without a doubt the easiest of the three events the make up Enduro Season, as you’re about to find out.
Event 2 : Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000
A race which needs no introduction. 1000km, or 161 laps of the 6.213km roller-coaster of a street circuit that is Bathurst Mount Panorama. This is the premier event on the V8 Supercars schedule, and in my opinion, the most prestigious touring car race in the world. If you win at Bathurst, you enter yourself into Australian racing royalty. 58 times this event has been run, with it’s linage tracing back to the Armstrong 500, held at Phillip Island in 1960.
Bathurst also features a unique qualifying setup, after the main qualifying sessions, the ten fastest drivers are put into the Top Ten Shootout, an event in itself seeing each car in the top ten getting a single flying hotlap to set time, with the tenth fastest driver going first, down to the 1st quickest last.
Bathurst Mount Panorama is a street circuit located in Bathurst, New South Wales. While it doesn’t fit the mold of a modern street circuit, featuring quite a bit of runoff in certain places, permanent pit facilities, and elevation change that would make Spa blush, it is one of the toughest tracks in all of motorsport. The lap starts out pretty straight forward, with a run down to the first cor- you know what, let’s just have current and former competitors walk you through it.
Last years running was the longest ever at Mount Panorama, with Chaz Mostert and Paul Morris of Ford Performance Racing coming from the back of the grid, to take victory in their Pepsi Max sponsored Ford Falcon after nearly 8 hours of competition. Mostert and Morris’ #6 Falcon became the first entry to win the fabled race starting from last place.
2015’s 1000 will take place across the weekend of October 9-11, 2015.
This is the grand-daddy of all touring car races, if you can only manage to watch a single V8 race during the year, this is the one.
Event 3 : Castrol Gold Coast 600
The newest member to the Enduro Season calendar is the Castrol Gold Coast 600, a twin 300km race format around the streets of Surfers Paradise.
While officially becoming a round of the Pirtek Endurance Cup in 2013, the streets of Surfers Paradise are no strangers to the rumble of the V8’s. They’ve been racing through the concrete canyon in some form since 1994, taking only a single year off in 1995. Until 2002, those races were non-points paying exhibition events run as support to Indycar/CART. Between 2002 and 2008, they were run as a round of the championship, with 7 different round winners in that 7 year span. After Indycar left following the 2008 season, and A1GP dying mere days before they were due to headline the 2009 Nikon SuperGP. V8 Supercars management had to act fast, which led to what were originally supposed to be two, 200km races over two days, into four, 150km races. Two on each the Saturday and Sunday of the event, with an aggregate points system to calculate the winners of each days racing(Saturday and Sundays counted as one, with Saturday’s races being recorded as Races 19a and b, and Sunday’s being Races 20a, and b).
That format evolved into the current format that we’ve got for the 600, twin 102 laps around a shortened Gold Coast circuit to when Indycar and CART raced there. There were a few years between 2010 and 2012 where the co-drivers for the events had to be “International Stars” which led to some strange pairings, and plenty of carnage.
The Gold Coast street circuit is one of the most famous in the world, and even though the V8 stars run a shortened configuration to years past, it’s still very high on the excitement scale.
Race 1 in 2014 saw Tekno Autosports’ Shane VanGisbergen and Jonothan Webb take top honors in their VIP Petfoods sponsored Holden, while Race 2 saw the familiar faces of Red Bull Racing Australia’s Jamie Whincup and Paul Dumbrell take home the checkers.
Why Should I Watch?
Well, that’s easy.
V8 Supercars is awesome.
If you’re not familiar with the drivers, some of the co-drivers may be familiar to you. Marcos Ambrose is back alongside Scotty Pye in the #17 Falcon, Indycar’s Sebastien Bourdais will be sharing a car with Lee Holdsworth in the #18 Commodore. Englishmen Oliver Gavin and Alex Buncombe will also be racing, Gavin behind the wheel of the #222 Commodore with Nick Percat, and Bumcombe co-driving Todd Kelly’s #7 Nissan Altima. Full list of drivers and co-drivers can be found here.
The cars? Holden Commodore, Ford Falcon, Nissan Altima, Mercedes-Benz E63, and Volvo S60. Yeah, they’re silhouette racecars, but they look a hell of a lot like their street bretheren, just bewinged and turned up to 11. 650 horses, 5.0l V8’s, six speed sequential gearboxes, lots of weight, and zero drivers aids.
How Can I Watch?
V8 Supercars offers a web-streaming service called Superview for those outside of Australia and New Zealand at a cost of AU$40 for the season. Favorable exchange rates and a throwaway email address for you and your mates to pool together and purchase it is the best decision one can make, in my opinion. You can log in to multiple devices under the same email address at the same time without kicking someone out. All qualifying and race sessions are archived and can be viewed at any time during the year.
Circuit layout graphics c/o racingcircuits.net.