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HomeNewsBruising 2022 season breaks unwanted 25-year-old record

Bruising 2022 season breaks unwanted 25-year-old record

THE carnage at the start of Sunday’s race at the Gold Coast 500 has caused the 2022 season to break one of the Repco Supercars Championship’s unwanted records.

The multi-car crash at the beach chicane on Lap 4 triggered the sixth red flag period of the season, surpassing the record of five set by the 1997 season.

In a remarkable quirk of fate, all six red flag periods in 2022 have occurred during the second race of a weekend. Further, every even-numbered round has been affected by a race stoppage – that is, Rounds 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 and 12.

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The first came in the early laps of Race 4 at Symmons Plains, when Jack Le Brocq and Andre Heimgartner crashed at the final corner and the race was red-flagged for over 17 minutes while a tyre barrier was repaired.

Le Brocq was also involved in the second red flag period of this year in Race 11 at Wanneroo, where contact between he and Scott Pye sent the Team 18 Holden into the wall on the front straight, damaging an access gate that led to a 54-minute stoppage to weld it shut.

The third happened in Race 17 at Hidden Valley due to a multi-car crash on the opening lap, while the fourth came moments after the start of Race 22 at The Bend when Heimgartner hit the stalled car of Thomas Randle.

Prior to Sunday, the most recent red flag period came during Race 28 at Pukekohe as a result of the high-profile tangle between Mark Winterbottom and Will Brown that sent the Erebus Holden into the pit entry fence.

Mark Larkham’s first-lap crash at Phillip Island brought out the first of five red flags during the 1997 ATCC. Pic: an1images.com / Dirk Klynsmith

In 1997, unlike this year, only three of the five red flag periods in 1997 occurred due to early-race incidents.

Two of them involved Mark Larkham.

A crash moments after the start of the opening race at Phillip Island left Larkham with a badly damaged Mitre 10 Falcon and forced a full race restart.

Greg Murphy’s crash on the exit of the final corner at Phillip Island brought out the 1997 ATCC’s second red flag. Pic: an1images.com / Dirk Klynsmith

The second race of the Phillip Island round was also red-flagged, this time on the ninth lap when a sudden puncture sent Greg Murphy into the earth-filled tyre barrier at the top of Gardner Straight.

On that occasion, the race was declared and the results backdated to the end of Lap 8, which meant Murphy officially finished the race in fourth place.

Larry Perkins looks over the damage after tangling with Wayne Gardner during the second race at Symmons Plains. Pic: an1images.com / Dirk Klynsmith

A crash also curtailed the second race of the very wet Symmons Plains round.

Scheduled for 22 laps, Wayne Gardner and Larry Perkins crashed in the braking area for the hairpin on the 19th tour. Once again, the results were backdated to the last full lap, meaning Gardner finished fifth and Perkins seventh.

Larkham was once again the victim of the fourth red flag of 1997, this time at Lakeside.

The aftermath of the fourth red flag of the 1997 ATCC at Lakeside. Pic: an1images.com / Dirk Klynsmith

He was tapped into a spin by Russell Ingall on the exit of the Karrusell on the second lap of the opening race, and the hapless Larkham was hit by privateer Ian Palmer, who in turn was hit by Mike Conway.

The damage ruled all three cars out for the remainder of the weekend, while a furious Larkham famously told Ingall “That’s two I owe you” prior to the restart.

In a twist of fate, the fifth and final red flag period of the 1997 ATCC spelt the end of Ingall’s title hopes.

Russell Ingall’s car is taken away following his crash at the start of the second race at Oran Park. Pic: an1images.com / Dirk Klynsmith

He entered the final round at Oran Park as one of three drivers contending for the crown, but a retirement from the opening race meant a rear-of-grid start for the second.

His championship hopes hanging by a thread, Ingall charged off the line only to tangle with privateer John Trimbole as they avoided a slowing car, the contact sending the Castrol Commodore backwards into the pit wall.

While the tally of five only counted stoppages during championship races, there were a total of eight red flag periods during 1997 when non-championship races are included – one of which was in the very first V8 Supercars race of the year.

Moments before Gardner’s car is vaulted up on two wheels. Pic: an1images.com / Dirk Klynsmith

The opening support race at the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix was halted on the opening lap after a first-corner melee between Murphy, Gardner and John Bowe that sent the Coca-Cola Commodore up on two wheels. Gardner recovered, only to crash into Tony Longhurst on the approach to the next corner.

Another multi-car tangle drew the red flags on the opening lap of the first race of the weekend on the support bill for Gold Coast Indy, when a partly-jammed throttle sent Glenn Seton into the barriers at the second chicane and he was hit by Steven Richards, Terry Finnigan and Steven Johnson.

The other instance happened at the Barbagallo ATCC round, but not during one of the three points-paying championship races: the red flag flew on the second lap of the Privateers Dash when Mark Poole rolled at Kolb Corner after tangling with Darren Hossack.

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