CHAZ Mostert’s deflating fourth place finish in the opening Sunday race at Sydney Motorsport Park ranks among the closest battles for the last podium spot in Supercars history.
The Walkinshaw Andretti United driver was pipped to the final spot on the podium by Shane van Gisbergen by a scant 0.0072 of a second.
However, it’s not the closest margin by which a podium finish has been lost in ATCC/SC history – sorry Chaz, you’ve just missed the top three here too, I’m afraid.
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Only four times in championship history has the margin between third and fourth-placed cars been less than one thousandth of a second, and Mostert’s marginal defeat in Race 27 at the BP Ultimate Sydney SuperSprint is fourth of the bunch.
The third-closest finish was between teammates at a Bathurst 1000, but there was no question of the drivers involved attempting a form-finish for the cameras.
James Courtney and Russell Ingall were both pushing hard for the final podium spot in the 2006 ‘Great Race’, and a slight bobble for the former at Murray’s Corner on Lap 161 allowed ’The Enforcer’ to range up alongside.
Ingall fell short by just 0.0056 of a second, leaving he and co-driver Luke Youlden to watch their Stone Brothers Racing teammates Courtney and Glenn Seton make the trip to the dais.
There is actually a tie for the closest and second-closest margins between third and fourth placed cars.
The Sunday race at Sandown in 2010 featured Courtney claiming a pivotal victory to his title campaign, but a three-car battle was being waged behind him on the final lap.
Second-placed Mark Winterbottom was working hard to hold off Jamie Whincup, who in turn had Lee Holdsworth all over his rear bumper.
The then-Ford Performance Racing driver secured the spot by backing Whincup up at the final corner and preventing the Holden from getting a run on him, while a bout of wheelspin from the Triple Eight Holden allowed Holdsworth to range up alongside.
The Garry Rogers Motorsport pilot fell just 0.0042 of a second short at the chequered flag.
In a twist of fate, Holdsworth had been on the happy side of a 0.0042 of a second margin just 12 months earlier.
On that occasion, the GRM pilot was frantically trying to fend off a charging Greg Murphy in the closing stages of the 2009 Bathurst 1000.
The Kiwi was able to get up alongside on the run to the line but fell fractionally short, which denied Mark Skaife an 11th Bathurst 1000 podium in favour of Holdsworth and Michael Caruso enjoying their first.
Holdsworth told the story of the nerve-wracking final few corners from his perspective on the V8 Sleuth Podcast earlier this year.