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How van Gisbergen’s flying start ranks

SHANE van Gisbergen’s incredible start to the 2021 Repco Supercars Championship season has him on the brink of re-writing the record books.

Clean sweeping the opening two rounds at Bathurst and Sandown means he’s opened his account with five straight race wins.

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That puts van Gisbergen among, but not quite yet at the top, of some special company in the 62-year history of the Australian Touring Car/Supercars Championship.

Those behind

Jamie Whincup en route to victory in Adelaide, 2009. Pic: an1images.com

Making it to five in a row moved van Gisbergen’s 2021 start past the best achieved by his contemporaries Jamie Whincup and Scott McLaughlin.

In 2009 Whincup started his charge towards back-to-back Supercars titles with four-straight wins across Adelaide and Hamilton, utilising Triple Eight’s brand-new Ford Falcon FG.

Whincup’s 2009 triumph is one of many memorable victories detailed in our new book ‘Sensational Adelaide: An Illustrated History of the Adelaide 500’, which is now available to pre-order here.

He did it again a year later when the team switched to Holden Commodores, taking double wins at the Abu Dhabi and Bahrain rounds that opened the season before ultimately losing the title.

McLaughlin achieved his four-straight in 2019 with the new Ford Mustang, dominating Adelaide and the first two races at Albert Park before an outlap crash with Cam Waters dramatically ended his run.

Allan Moffat also won four in a row to start his championship-winning 1973 season before Peter Brock ended his run at the fifth race of the year at Surfers Paradise.

Van Gisbergen meanwhile had a previous best start of three wins in a row (in 2017); a feat also achieved by Dick Johnson back in 1982.

Equalling a legend

Peter Brock at Sandown in 1980. Pic: an1images.com / Ian Smith

Van Gisbergen’s five draws him level with Peter Brock’s domination of the first five races in the 1980 season.

Armed with a new VB Commodore and facing relatively thin initial opposition, Brock and his re-organised Holden Dealer Team went on a tear.

He won at Symmons Plains, Calder (a two-race format, one of which was a night race), Lakeside and the opening race at Sandown before being edged by Kevin Bartlett’s Camaro by just 0.3 seconds in the second heat at the Melbourne venue.

Brock went on to win the championship, which marked his third and ultimately final ATCC crown.

Those ahead

Allan Moffat at Sandown in 1977. Pic: an1images.com / Ian Smith

The record for most wins to start a season sits at six and is jointly held by two drivers.

Allan Moffat started his title-winning 1977 season with six straight aboard his Moffat Ford Dealers Falcon XB GT, ticking off two wins at Sandown and then the single-race affairs at Calder, Oran Park, Amaroo and Sandown.

His run was finally ended at Adelaide International Raceway with a second-place finish to teammate Colin Bond.

It was a marker that remained unmatched until 1994, when Mark Skaife stormed to six-straight aboard his Gibson Motorsport Commodore VP.

Mark Skaife at Sandown in 1994. Pic: an1images.com / Graeme Neander

Skaife romped to double wins at Amaroo, Sandown and Symmons Plains before long-time rival Glenn Seton halted his charge at Phillip Island.

Although Skaife only won one of the season’s last 14 races his flying start meant he’d done enough to secure the championship.

Shane van Gisbergen’s quest to equal – and possibly break – the record for most consecutive wins to start a season will continue at Symmons Plains on April 10-11.

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