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Aug 2, 2013

SHANNONS NATIONALS CHASES THE NIGHT

The Shannons Australian Motor Racing Nationals will use this weekend’s sixth round of the series to evaluate the use of more night racing at future events.

The monster Queensland Raceway event – which includes eight national level categories racing across a bumper three-day program – will be the second Shannons Nationals round of the year to feature night-time action; Mallala’s April event also featuring racing under lights on the Saturday night.

This weekend marks the return of the ‘Fight in the Night’ 200km AMChamps Production Car enduro as part of an expanded night and twilight racing schedule at the Ipswich circuit.

A 40-minute Australian GT Championship race and the final round of the Jim Richards Endurance Trophy series for Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge competitors will be held in either twilight – or full night time – conditions on Saturday evening.

Temporary lighting will be set up at key points around the circuit, lighting braking markers and corner apexes to help drivers negotiate the night.

“Night racing at Queensland Raceway makes a lot of sense,” said Shannons Nationals series director, Rob Curkpatrick.

"It’s a compact layout and it doesn’t require a massive number of portable lighting towers to make sure the key components of the circuit – flag points, corner apexes and the like – are lit up enough for competitors to see them.

“It also works well with the demand for our only Queensland event – we can fit more into the day by offering night racing to categories like the AMChamps and GT3 Cup Challenge and the feedback has been that the competitors love it.

“At Mallala this year we were able to take advantage of a circuit that already features permanent lighting and the first trial of it this year, with night racing for the Swifts and Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge, was successful enough for us to pencil it into our program for next season already.”

Curkpatrick said the series will continue to investigate ways of improving and expanding the night-racing product; a unique selling point of the Shannons Nationals.

“It’s unique and different and something that we would like to maintain and improve into the future,” he said.

“Were we to televise the night racing as part of our TV package (currently on Sunday’s racing is filmed for SBS Speedweek and SPEED TV Australia) we would probably need to investigate making things brighter for the cameras – but at the moment the effect is particularly good and it makes for exciting spectating.

“It’s like being in the dark at LeMans, with glowing brakes and flames from the exhausts and we’d like to build a small part of that kind of excitement and mystique into our events if we can.

“Night racing also provides our promoters with a fantastic opportunity to ‘do a speedway’ and market to a crowd keen to come out for a few hours of great racing on a Saturday evening and then go home.

“At Mallala we had a couple of families out with their BBQs, on the hill, watching the racing and that was sensational. We want to encourage more of that and we see it becoming a key part of our growth.

“We will be aiming to improve what we do in the future when it comes to working with the circuits and the promoters to market that concept to fans, because I think it is an area where the Shannons Nationals can really lead the way in Australian Motorsport. Certainly at a national level, no one else really does it.

“We would like to build on these two rounds as the best night-time circuit racing events in Australia. It makes sense at QR and Mallala as they have the facilities, ideal spectator viewing and no noise issues what so ever. It’s great for the spectators but also, importantly, for our competitors, who love it as something totally different to the norm.

“We see it as a strong part of our future."