Beaurepaires Supercars Melbourne 400 preview

Round 2 of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship 2020 is nearly here.

The likes of Scott McLaughlin, Jamie Whincup, Shane van Gisbergen and Chaz Mostert will race around the iconic Albert Park Grand Prix Circuit as part of the Formula 1® Rolex Australian Grand Prix 2020.

For the third year running, the Melbourne event - known as the Beaurepaires Supercars Melbourne 400 - is for points and that means that patrons and viewers can expect fiercely competitive racing.

The format

The Beaurepaires Supercars Melbourne 400 is a unique event, with drivers competing in four 100-kilometre races.

The action begins with a pair of 30-minute practice sessions on Thursday, while qualifying for each of the four races lasts just 10 minutes, meaning one bad lap can be costly.

Every driver must make a pit stop for a four-tyre change during each race - but refuelling is banned.

Races can be won and lost on the speed of these stops, which are not permitted for the first two laps of each race.

The schedule

Practice sessions will be held on Thursday from 11.55am-12.25pm* and 1.35pm-2.05pm, giving drivers a chance to familiarise themselves with the 5.3km-long circuit.

Qualifying for Race 1 runs from 4.10pm-4.20pm on Thursday and Race 2 qualifying starts almost immediately, running from 4.30pm-4.40pm.

Qualifying for Race 3 starts at 10.10am on Friday and then the final qualifying session begins at 10.30am.

It is race time after that, with the first event of the weekend running from 1.50pm-2.40pm on Friday.

Two races follow on Saturday, at 12.00pm and 3.20pm, before the final race of the weekend begins at 1pm on Sunday.

Adelaide Superloop 400

The 2020 season kicked off in Adelaide last month and seven-time Supercars champion Whincup won race one from pole in a big boost to Red Bull Holden Racing.

McLaughlin rose from seventh to finish second in that race, though, and then won Sunday’s race to be the best-performed driver of the weekend.

Van Gisbergen led Race 2 and looked destined for victory but a pit stop went awry and meant he had to return to the pits for more fuel with 10 laps remaining.

He dropped to fourth and then did not even make it through the race as a broken lower control arm cut his day short.

Last year

McLaughlin showed his class at last year’s Melbourne event, winning three of four qualifying sessions and claiming three of four races.

Mostert – then driving for Supercheap Auto Racing - was the only driver to challenge McLaughlin’s stranglehold on the event, winning the one race and one pole that the Kiwi did not claim over the weekend.

A bizarre incident before Race 3 cost McLaughlin the Larry Perkins Trophy, though, given to the best-performed driver over the race meeting.

McLaughlin collided with Monster Energy Racing’s Cameron Waters on the out lap and the incident resulted in two DNS’, meaning Mostert won the honour after a consistent weekend.

The trophy

The Larry Perkins Trophy was first handed out in 2018 to Whincup.

Perkins spent time in both Supercars and Formula 1® and the trophy goes to the driver who accumulates the most points on the Melbourne weekend.

The 69-year-old will present the trophy to the winning driver on Sunday.

The Formula 1® Rolex Australian Grand Prix 2020 runs in Melbourne from March 12 to 15. Book online and save up to $10* on AusGP Park Pass tickets before prices increase at the gate.

Follow the Action