V8 Supercars Australia have announced the calendar for the 2008 season, which will again feature 14 championship rounds as well as a return to Albert Park after a one-year hiatus.
The return to the Formula One race is among several changes to the calendar, including an earlier start to the season, a venue change for the 500km endurance event, a new venue for the New Zealand round of the championship and a change of time of year for the Oran Park round.
The season will kick off again in Adelaide with the Clipsal 500 around the Adelaide Parklands, but will now be held at the start of the last week of February, a move which could see drivers racing in 40C or higher temperatures, with cabin temperatures even higher.
In previous years drivers have suffered from heat exhaustion, and despite ongoing measures to cool drivers in hot conditions, the move to an earlier date may prove not to be a good one.
The V8s will return to the Australian Formula One Grand Prix program after differences that kept them away from this year's event appear to have been ironed out. Most if not all drivers enjoyed driving at the event, so the return should be a popular one for drivers and fans alike.
A change of promoter at Sandown has seen the 500km endurance event again move away from the circuit, with the event to be held at Phillip Island in the traditional September 'Sandown' timeslot, Phillip Island having held similar endurance events during the 1970s.
Another venue change will happen with the New Zealand round, moving to the streets of Hamilton in a seven-year deal after a successful seven-year run at Pukekohe, particularly for Greg Murphy who won four of the seven rounds held there.
2008 will see the final round of the season held at Oran Park, much later than the circuit's usual date. The decision comes after the circuit's owner announced earlier this year that the circuit will be sold to become a housing development, with the V8 Supercar round the circuit's final sendoff.
One of the two rounds in July has still yet to have a venue confirmed for it, with Queensland Raceway the most likely candidate, apart from the possibility of another circuit holding two rounds.
Date Venue February 21-24 Clipsal 500, Adelaide March 7-9 Eastern Creek, Sydney March 13-16 Australian Grand Prix, Melbourne (non-championship) April 18-20 Hamilton, New Zealand May 9-11 Perth, Western Australia June 7-9 Sandown Raceway, Melbourne July 4-6 Hidden Valley, Darwin July 18-20 to be announced August 1-3 Winton, Victoria September 12-14 Phillip Island, Victoria October 9-12 Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000, Bathurst October 23-26 Indy 300, Gold Coast November 6-8 Desert 400, Bahrain November 21-23 Tasmania Challenge, Launceston December 4-7 Oran Park, Sydney