After much controversy, Avesco (Australian V Eight Supercars Company), promoters of the V8 Supercar Championship have dropped the unpopular pre-qualifying rules.
Team Owners and representatives of AVESCO metat an extraordinary meeting on the Gold Coast to thrash out the difficulties facing the series with the introduction of pre-qualifying. Owners and AVESCO made arrangements by agreement to drop the pre-qualifying immediately, leaving Round 4 open to all teams that had entered for the series.
Pre-qualifying was introduced at the beginning of the series due to oversubscribed grids and lack of pit facilities at some Australian circuits. The grid was restricted to 32 places on some tracks that did not have more than 32 pit garages to cope with the large fields.
The rules called for those teams that did not finish in the top 25 of the last round to pre-qualify for the last 7 spots on the grid. Unfortunately for some teams, that meant their weekend was over before it started. This created some ill feeling amongst the smaller teams, who have generally struggled financially, when their sponsors were unable to get exposure that they had already paid for.
The situation came to a head after round 3 at Eastern creek raceway in Sydney which left two of the major teams drivers on the sidelines due to pre-qualifying incidents which ruined their hot laps.
The meeting on the Gold Coast resolved to increase the grid sizes to 36 spots on those tracks that allow, restrict three car teams to two cars and the voluntary withdrawal of drivers from the Western Australian round. The pits at some tracks have also been re-arranged to combine pit boxes for some two car teams and shared facilities for one car teams.
Larry Perkins, six times Bathurst 1000 winner and team owner for the Castrol Perkins Holden Team, voluntarily withdrew himself from the Western Australian round to allow for maximum numbers on the track. Perkins, a vocal opponent to pre-qualifying said that due to his team having three cars he believed that it would benefit the series. He also stated that because his other two drivers, Steven Richards and Russell Ingall, were sprint racers and he was mainly the endurance driver, little would be lost from that one round for his team.
What remains to be seen is whether the system will continue as smoothly as it was created by the owners.