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Stats Insider: Gen3 faster than Gen2 for the first time

THE first season of Gen3 Supercars racing ended with the platform bringing up an interesting milestone.

Meanwhile, history repeated for Shane van Gisbergen as he called time on his Supercars career, while Ford’s successful Sunday included a feat it hadn’t achieved in 15 years.

All that and more in this VAILO Adelaide 500 edition of Stats Insider.

Gen3 undercuts Gen2 records in Adelaide
A momentous thing happened when Matt Payne completed his 55th lap of the Saturday race in Adelaide.

The young Kiwi became the first driver of a Gen3 Supercar to undercut one of the old Gen2 lap records.

Payne’s 1m20.0593s lap dipped under the old mark set 12 months ago by Chaz Mostert, who posted a 1m20.2881s time on his way to winning the Saturday leg of the resurrected event.

Three other drivers also beat the previous record, including Payne’s Grove Racing teammate David Reynolds, race winner Cam Waters, and Mostert himself.

It was Reynolds who ended the race with the new lap record, though; a 1m19.9571 that was the first – and only – ‘nineteen’ set by a Supercar in race conditions on the Adelaide streets, a mark that held up through the Sunday race as well.

Just as significant was Payne’s speed in winning the Sunday race.

MORE: Payne didn’t want to jinx first win

His maiden Repco Supercars Championship race win took 1h46m48.6380s for an average speed of 141.087km/h.

That undercuts the previous race record in Adelaide, set by Shane van Gisbergen during the Sunday race in 2017 (1h47m18.8595s, 140.425km/h), by 30.2215s.

Both races ran free of Safety Cars, and although the fuel drop requirement was only 100 litres this year versus 140 in 2017, Gen3’s slower refuelling rate meant Payne gained only three seconds on van Gisbergen across his in-laps, pit stops and out-laps.

Some more of the half-minute margin can be attributed to the resurfacing work done prior to the 2022 race and the softer tyres used by Gen3 cars, although 2017 also benefitted from the new-construction tyre that Dunlop used that season, which delivered faster laptimes across the board.

Nonetheless, it’s a far cry from where the Gen3 cars started the season in Newcastle, where they were almost two seconds off the old race lap record and over three minutes slower than the race record despite a similar Safety Car-free run in the opening race.

For the record, Adelaide’s qualifying lap record was the only mark that survived the weekend.

Brodie Kostecki’s 1m19.0460s lap, in topping qualifying on Friday afternoon, was just under half a second shy of Mostert’s pole record set last year.

Triple Eight made several attempts to rectify the issue with Shane van Gisbergen’s car before retiring him from the Sunday race. Pic: Ross Gibb

History never repeats, eh?
It wasn’t the way anyone wanted to see Shane van Gisbergen end his full-time Supercars career but, remarkably, his double-DNF in Adelaide mirrored what happened the last time it looked like the Kiwi was going to be lost to Supercars.

MORE: Van Gisbergen details mystery issue in Supercars swansong

The 2012 season ended with van Gisbergen departing both Stone Brothers Racing and the sport itself with no plans of taking part in the 2013 season.

His final weekend driving for SBR ended with van Gisbergen retiring from both races at Homebush without completing a single lap.

He copped steering damage in a lap-one tangle with Tony D’Alberto while they battled over ninth place in the Saturday race; adding insult to injury, it broke completely as he tried to limp back to the pits, sending him straight into the path of the Porsche Panamera Medical Car.

Sunday was little better, with clutch failure putting him out of the race before the end of the opening tour.

Of course, history shows that van Gisbergen was back on the grid when the championship resumed in Adelaide in 2013, having joined Tekno Autosports and Holden.

He started his first race in GM machinery from pole position, but a transaxle failure put him out after 62 laps.

Prior to last weekend, SVG’s retirement from the last race of 2012 and first race of 2013 was the most recent time he’d posted two DNFs in a row.

Will Davison had the edge over Anton De Pasquale in head-to-head qualifying numbers in 2023. Pic: Ross Gibb

We’ve seen those numbers before somewhere…
One of the final scorelines in the head-to-head teammate qualifying numbers made us smile.

Will Davison edged teammate Anton De Pasquale by 0.0127s in the final qualifying session of the season, as the two Dick Johnson Racing pilots locked out the seventh row of the grid for the Sunday race.

In doing so, that meant Davison had been the top-qualifying Shell V-Power Mustang on 17 occasions and De Pasquale on 11 occasions – perfectly matching their car numbers.

DJR had one of the more closely-matched combinations on the grid, bested only by Team 18’s Scott Pye and Mark Winterbottom (16-12), and the Triple Eight and Grove squads, where young guns Feeney and Payne edged their more experienced teammates 15-13.

Erebus became just the sixth Supercars squad to win the Teams Championship. Pic: Ross Gibb

Erebus joins the big guns
Erebus Motorsport’s championship victories put them firmly among the most successful squads in pit lane.

Kostecki’s became the 26th driver to win an ATCC/Supercars Championship across its history, and just the second driver to win a title driving a Chevrolet following the late Bob Jane’s triumphs in 1971 and 1972.

Erebus is just the sixth team to win the Dunlop Teams Championship since its inauguration in 1999, joining the Holden Racing Team, HSV Dealer Team, Triple Eight, and DJR Team Penske, as well as Stone Brothers Racing, the team Betty Klimenko bought out to put Erebus on the Supercars grid in 2013.

The title win also marks the first for Coca-Cola as a primary sponsor despite its long association with the sport, stretching back to the days of Allan Moffat’s Trans-Am Ford Mustang.

Ford locked out the podium and then some on Saturday in Adelaide. Pic: Ross Gibb

Blue Oval to the fore
There was plenty of blue in the top-half of the timing totem in the Sunday race, with Fords filling nine of the top 12 positions.

That’s the first time that has happened since the opening race at Symmons Plains in 2008.

If that feels like a long time ago, you’re not wrong; Todd Kelly’s winning Holden Commodore was run by Perkins Engineering, the squad’s final victory before transitioning to Kelly Racing at the end of the season.

Mustangs also swept the top four spots in the Saturday race, although you don’t have to go as far back in time to find the most recent instance of that happening.

Scott McLaughlin led home teammate Fabian Coulthard in the opening race at Albert Park in 2019, followed by Cam Waters and Will Davison to complete a top-four lockout for Fords, while Chaz Mostert made it a top-five sweep in fifth place.

Cam Waters returned #43 to victory lane for the first time in almost 40 years. Pic: Ross Gibb

Random notes
– In addition to being the 13th New Zealander to win an ATCC/Supercars Championship race, Matt Payne is the first driver named Matt, Mat or Matthew (or non-Anglo equivalents – I’m looking at you, Mattias Ekström) to do so.

– Shane van Gisbergen’s perfect streak of championship race starts will end at 511 when the 2024 season begins. He has started every race he has been eligible to take part in since his debut at Oran Park in 2007.

– The Sunday race marked the 50th championship race on the Adelaide Parklands Circuit since it joined the calendar in 1999.

– Cam Waters’ Saturday race win was the first for #43 since Allan Moffat won at Wanneroo in 1984 – a span of 39 years, 7 months and 24 days.

– Triple Eight’s record of winning every ATCC/SC race held on November 26 ended with Grove Racing’s victory in the Sunday race. Its record of never winning an ATCC/SC race held on November 25 continues.

– Five primary drivers finished every race in 2023: Bryce Fullwood, Will Davison, Matt Payne, James Golding, Brodie Kostecki. Broc Feeney greeted the chequered flag in every race, but was disqualified from the season opener in Newcastle.

– There are now just 87 days until the opening race of the 2024 season at the Thrifty Bathurst 500.

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