Supercars team bosses have called for a move away from the pseudo two-day format which is being used this weekend at the Beaurepaires Sydney SuperNight.
While the Repco Supercars Championship field rolls out this afternoon at Sydney Motorsport Park for opening practice, today is in fact the second of three days of track activity at the event, with support categories already in action.
It was the same at Symmons Plains earlier this year, and will be again when the next event of the season takes place at The Bend.
Officially, those events span four days, given set-up is counted in the supplementary regulations.
Despite track activity being compressed to Saturday and Sunday only, Supercars Championship crews still had to arrive in Sydney from Thursday, when they rushed through the bulk of their unload from 12:00 local time (as opposed to 08:30 at Townsville, for example).
Friday, on the other hand, is quite unproductive, with teams not allowed to lower transporter tailgates given spectators have access to the paddock, and nor may they access pit lane.
“I love the two-day event factor,” he remarked in response to a Speedcafe question on the subject.
“Just get in, get it done; just two big, cracking days of massive action.
“But, in my opinion, we've got an operational issue this weekend. You can't use pit lane because all the support categories are in there, and you can't pull your tailgate down because there's an OH&S issue.
“So, we've all got to roll in [on Thursday], you've got a half a day and a mad rush to get everything out of your truck in the garage, and then get your pit boom set up.
“Then we sit around here [on Friday] with your finger up your bum, waiting to get on.
“So, if we're here, we may as well be racing, but let's fix the operational issue.
“Let's set up [on Friday] and then have a crack at Saturday, Sunday.
“I'm not saying it's easy to create a calendar or create a format for the weekend where you've got to pack all your events in and all the support categories – it's a hard thing to do – but I think we can do a better job on Friday.
“Even pit stop practice, we're getting in that early for pit stop practice yet we've got a couple of blocks during the day.
“Let's not come in so early; let's get pit strop practice at nine o'clock, let's do a grid walk at the same time for the punters to go down and see pit stop practice, and let's combine it all.
“I'm not criticising anybody but I think we can do better with operational.”
Shell V-Power Racing Team Principal Ben Croke believes Friday night practice would have been a better option this weekend.
Amid questions around night-time visibility from the new Gen3 Supercars, tonight's Race 18 will be the only session in such conditions this year, after qualifying wraps up at 17:35 local time.
“I think we should be doing a practice session tonight [Friday], under lights, before we just go straight into the race under lights,” opined Croke.
“We're all here, we've all been set up.
“We had a similar thing in Perth a couple of years ago, where we all sat around on the Friday and then, lo and behold, the next year, we were practicing on the Friday night.
“For me, we should be doing a one-hour session [on Friday night].
“There's reasons why we do all these two-day events [but] it's something to review.”
Penrite Racing owner Stephen Grove simply wants more action in order to enhance cut-through in a crowded sporting market.
“There's commercial reasons why it's done but my preference is three days,” he stated.
“But that's always been my preference, because my preference also is that we don't have enough rounds.
“We race 12 times a year; it's just not enough from a commercial perspective.
“Forget the engineering side; we compete in a market against NRL and AFL with other codes to try and get that audience, and they're on 24 times a year.
“So, for us to go to 12 and down to two-day events, I get the commercial side and the travel, but we're here all day and, as Ben said, I think we should be on-track [on Friday].”
Teams did practice pit stops under lights last night, as they will do for real tonight, after they were allowed access to pit lane and to complete their track walks from 16:30.
Practice 1 for the Supercars Championship field starts today at 12:15 local time/AEST.