The 2016 Virgin Australia Supercars Championship opened with a record-breaking number of different winners and high praise for the racing quality produced by the new-look Super Sprint format.
While there's been a lot of debate around the overall health and future direction of the championship, the competitive depth and racing quality has never been better.
V8X Supercar Magazine issue #93 takes an in-depth look into the future of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, through an examination into the technical, sporting and calendar conundrums the series faces, while also uncovering why the on-track product is so good.
Issue #93 is on sale now in stores with the digital edition available in the official V8X app (in the App Store and Google Play), online at DigitalEdition.V8XMagazine.com.au and in the Magzter app store.
CLICK HERE for more information on V8X Supercar Magazine issue #93.
The revamped Super Sprint format, featuring the exclusive use of soft tyres and with a new-for-2016 120km race on Saturday to go with Sunday's 200km, has revitalised the sprint events, with strategy enlivening the races.
According to the reign ing series champion and V8X Supercar Magazine columnist Mark Winterbottom, the combination of soft tyres and a longer strategic races is "creating way better racing than we've ever seen in the category".
"Being out of sequence and teams taking risk on strategy is what makes for good racing, otherwise, given how close the field is in terms of laps times, if we were all on the same quality of tyres and fuel loads, there'd be little in the way of passing," he adds.
"Anyone you support has a chance of winning a race. And that's what sport should be about. Personally, I can't believe how open it is this season!"
For the first time since the introduction of the 18-inch Car of the Future tyre was formulated four years ago, Dunlop has produced a new construction for evaluation with better drive- ability to further improve the racing from next season.
"High degradation equals better racing... and we've seen that's the case at a circuit like Barbagallo Raceway, where tyre wear is typically so high and pitting for an extra time for fresh tyres could pay dividends," explains Winterbottom.
"That doesn't work at a lot of other circuits, so introducing an even softer compound might create better racing with that option for an extra pitstop to get off tyres that wear so harshly.
"We are almost at the point where we need the soft or super soft to be used based on whichever circuit we are racing on, but that will be expensive for Dunlop and the category.
"The format is great this year; it's spot on. But while I think they are fantastic, it's inevitable that the teams will get on top of it and everyone will just do the same optimal strategies.
"That will lead to predictability in terms of what teams do, which negates the differences in terms of strategies and tyre life.
"So maybe there will be a need for a revamp to stop that from happening."
CLICK HERE to purchase the print edition of V8X Supercar Magazine issue #93 and read more from Winterbottom on the state of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship.