Motorsport

This is why we watch the sport: Reviewing Round 10 of the Supercars Championship

Will Brown becomes the 82nd driver in history to win a Supercars race. Photo: Supercars

Three rounds at Sydney Motorsport Park (SMSP), only one to go at the Western Sydney venue. This round was an important one because it marked the final sprint round of the year.

Up next, we hit enduro mode, first with two 250km races at SMSP and then at the holy grail of tracks in Australia – Mount Panorama, Bathurst for the Bathurst 1000.

Before that though, let’s have a look at what took place in Round 10 of the Supercars Championship.

A rookie scores an eight year first

Just like last week, we have to talk about race three first. These are the moments as a fan that I live for in the sport. The moments that take your breath away and the moments that make you audibly gasp and cheer and clap while sitting in my armchair. Race three had everything. Clean racing, great battling, a bit of biff and barge, incoming weather, teammate drama and a first time winner. For me, this race was the best race of the year.

After missing out on a possible first victory in the previous rounds due to pitstop dramas, Will Brown claimed the first Supercars win of his career, holding off two of the best drivers we have ever seen in the series. In doing so, Brown became only the 82nd winner in 60 years of Australian Touring Car Championship/Supercar racing.

We have to also recognise that Brown is a Supercars rookie as a full-time driver, and getting a win in a rookie season is no mean feat. It is the first time in eight years that a rookie has scored a victory, with both Scott McLaughlin (then driving for Garry Rogers Motorsport) and Chaz Mostert (with Dick Johnson Racing) claiming victory in 2013. Those two have had lots of success and for Brown to now be on that list is a fantastic achievement.

Brown holds off the hard charging Bulls. Photo: Supercars

The battle of the heavyweights

While everyone was extremely happy for Will Brown, everyone after the race was talking about what went down between the Jamie Whincup and Shane van Gisbergen. Usually when van Gisbergen is flying on fresh tyres, no one can stop him, but someone tell that to teammate Whincup.

Despite the pleas from his race engineer to let van Gisbergen past, Whincup wanted to stay in front and he did just that, running his teammate off the road in several places, making contact and not giving it away. In all probability, Whincup’s need to stay in front of van Gisbergen likely cost Red Bull the win, but that didn’t seem to bother Whincup.

Whincup is a seven-time champion for a reason. He is statistically the greatest driver of all time for a reason. He fights for the best he can get, no matter who the opponent is. So while the team probably had a fun debrief after the race, it is clear that Whincup is a racer, as he has been every year he has been in Supercars. As a general fan, it was awesome to watch. With three races left for the year, I expect to see more of it and bring it on.

Is Whincup retiring too soon?

The retirement news from Whincup earlier this season sent shockwaves around the paddock and given the fight Jamie still has left in him, combined with his performances, is it the right time for him to hang up the helmet as a full-time driver?

Whincup will be moving to the team manager role for 2022, effectively replacing Roland Dane as the head of Triple Eight in the garage after a very successful career, one that will unlikely ever be beaten. There are huge similarities between Jamie Whincup this year and Peter Brock in 1997, when they both went out fighting to the end. The love for the sport is there and they want to win, and that is what a winner does. Whincup is 2nd in the championship as it stands so he still has it. If you are at the top of your game, why stop now?

Speaking to Fox Sports after the race, Whincup stated the following:

“I’ve only got a couple of races left so I’m not going to give any away…

“…We raced hard right until the end; as I said, it was a good opportunity for the win for us, but unfortunately didn’t happen because we fought each other.

“As I said, I’ve only got a few left. Dog eat dog.”

Whincup will be going for it, and when we have the best fighting tooth and nail for the win, this is what racing should be.

What happened in the first two races?

Anton De Pasquale claimed two from two in the first two races of the weekend, and with the win for Brown in the final race, it was only the second round all year that van Gisbergen hasn’t won a race. How’s that for consistancy.

Overall, the racing was pretty clean, but it was another horror round for Tickford who have had great trouble with consistent speed. The speed was lacking, but a clash between Waters and LeBrocq in race two really summed up their time at Sydney Motorsport Park.

This has really not helped the points tally for Waters in the Drivers Championship or for Tickford in the Teams Championship, having previously held a solid lead for third in both championships.

Last but not least, the highlight of race two has to be the finish for third between van Gisbergen and Mostert. A classic finish and a gap of only 0.0072 of a second.

The Championship Standings

As it stands, Shane van Gisbergen can claim his second Supercars Championship next weekend if he maintains a 300 point gap over Jamie Whincup. Currently there are 337 points between first and second and statistically, only four drivers can claim the Supercars Championship – van Gisbergen, Whincup, Davison and Mostert. Davison and Mostert are 529 and 595 points behind respectively, so realistically, the 2021 crown is heading to Red Bull Ampol Racing for the first time since 2017.

There are a maximum of 610 points remaining in the championship to be handed out, 300 per round plus five points each for the final round at SMSP for the fastest lap in each race.

In the Sydney Cup, Van Gisgergen still sits at the top with 752 points but is only 43 points in front of De Pasquale. Jamie Whincup (691 points), Will Brown (649), Will Davison (644), Nick Percat (598), Chaz Mostert (577), Tim Slade (587) and Scott Pye (453) follow and are the only drivers that remain in contention for the $25,000 prize.

Finally, the Teams Championship battle for third and fifth are heating up heading into the final races of the year. Walkinshaw Andretti United (Mostert and Fullwood) are only 58 points behind Tickford (Waters and Courtney), meanwhile Erebus (Brown and B. Kostecki), Brad Jones Racing (Percat and Hazelwood) and Team 18 (Winterbottom and Pye) are only separated by 188 points in the chase for fifth and the best garage for 2022 possible.

Racing resumes for the final time at Sydney Motorsport Park on Friday afternoon for those two 250km races, and then we are off to Bathurst for the 1000 to round off the year.

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