THIS weekend we see the finale of the 2016 Virgin Australia Supercars championship with the running of the Coates Hire Sydney 500.
This weekend will also be the last time we see a motor race at the 3.42km Homebush circuit which has been the chequered flag to the championship since 2009.
A new Supercars champion will be crowned following a 74-lap race on Saturday afternoon and another 74-lap race on Sunday afternoon.
Triple 8 Red Bull Racing's Shane Van Gisbergen is leading the way with a 191-point gap over team-mate and six-times championship winner Jamie Whincup.
Whincup knows what it will take to snatch the championship from Van Gisbergen but Van Gisbergen is in the box seat with a substantial lead that means he drive less aggressively.
Van Gisbergen’s buffer also means he can take extra care to try and stay out of the chaos around him in which is nearly a given at the Olympic Park street circuit.
Whincup will have to do the complete opposite and drive at maximum attack the whole time in his #88 Holden Commodore.
I believe the key part to this championship decider will be the third driver in the Triple 8 racing stable, Craig Lowndes, who is currently placed third in the championship only 14 points ahead of Garry Rogers Motorsport's Scott Mclaughlin.
If the situation comes about during the race, who will Lowndes help?
Jamie and Craig have a long-standing relationship in and out of the team.
Practice will kick off at 11.05am on Friday.
A new challenge
LAST weekend we saw a brand new event launch at Mount Panorama, Challenge Bathurst.
Thursday and Friday was the “Lightning” section which was a timed sprint between a huge variety of cars from a Hyundai Excel all the way up to a current BMW M6 GT3 car.
Saturday and Sunday was the “Thunder” section regularity, a test of consistency rather than speed, that saw a number of local drivers compete at their home track.
Local drivers included Tony King in a Mazda Mx5, Mal Pollard in a Holden Commodore, John Markwick in a Nissan Pulsar, Mark Tobin in a Mazda RX7, Rod Esdaile, David and Stuart Pennells in Porsches and Kelso Electrical’s own Brad Schumacher who made an impressive Mount Panorama debut in his Lotus Exige.
There was a 2 min 36 sec cut-off time for the regularity that had Schumacher right on the bubble for the majority of the sessions, only to be excluded out of the last two for breaking the cut off time, getting down to a fast 2:33.
The sprint section will be a better option for Brad next year.