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HomeNewsStats Insider: SVG equals Richards’ untouchable record

Stats Insider: SVG equals Richards’ untouchable record

SHANE van Gisbergen has been mowing down records like they are his Supercars rivals in season 2022.

His latest conquest is a record that has stood for 37 years and not come close to even being nudged in the last 20 years – although, technically, he doesn’t get to officially break the record.

All that and more in the Gold Coast 500 edition of Stats Insider.

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SVG matches the record for consecutive round wins

Jim Richards’ record for consecutive round wins has stood since his dominant run through the 1985 Australian Touring Car Championship.

The Supercars Hall of Famer romped to the first of his four ATCC titles off the back of seven round wins, six of which came in a row across the Wanneroo, Adelaide, Calder, Surfers Paradise, Lakeside and Amaroo Park rounds.

Prior to Richards’ historic season, the record was held by Allan Moffat’s pair of five-round win streaks across the 1972-73 seasons and during his Moffat Ford Dealers squad’s crushing 1977 campaign.

The only driver to come close to equalling Richards’ mark was his former protégé, Mark Skaife, who started the 2002 season with five consecutive round victories.

Skaife’s pursuit of six ran aground in the second race of the Barbagallo round, where a controversial pitlane drive-through penalty for a ‘bump-and-run’ pass on race leader Greg Murphy left him fourth overall for the round.

Jim Richards won six rounds on the trot in 1985, including this hard-fought affair at Calder. Pic: an1images.com / Dale Rodgers

Richards’ benchmark can’t be broken in the current era: Supercars stopped awarding overall round wins at championship events at the end of 2008 in favour of rewarding individual race victories.

However, our AN1 Data statistics continue to record which drivers have ended the weekend with the biggest haul of points – the theoretical ‘round winner’.

Van Gisbergen’s imperious form in the back half of the 2022 season has allowed him to become the first driver to match Richards’ feat.

SVG’s clean sweep of the Boost Mobile Gold Coast 500 weekend marks the sixth straight round in which he has been the top point scorer, a streak that began at the NTI Townsville 500.

Previously, van Gisbergen’s best were a pair of four-round streaks (Gold Coast 2016 to Adelaide 2017, Townsville to The Bend 2018), which was the same personal best for another quartet of highly-credentialled racers: Dick Johnson, Marcos Ambrose, Jamie Whincup and Scott McLaughlin.

The next record within SVG’s grasp is that for the biggest championship-winning points margin.

Currently held by Skaife with his 658-point margin over Murphy at the close of the 2002 season, van Gisbergen heads to the Adelaide 500 season finale with a 660-point lead over Cam Waters.

Mark Winterbottom extended his Gold Coast finishing streak. Pic: Supplied

Frosty’s perfect run remains intact

Mark Winterbottom has maintained his 100 percent finishing record on the Gold Coast streets.

The Team 18 driver entered the weekend without a DNF to his name across all his race starts at Surfers Paradise.

He extended his tally to 37 finishes from 38 race starts – the one race discrepancy comes from the 2018 Sunday race that was cancelled due to weather, although Winterbottom was still running when that was declared!

The streak came close to ending on the opening tour of Sunday’s race, however: Winterbottom was the car directly ahead of James Golding as the field entered the beach chicane…

Grove Racing claimed its second pole position of 2022 on the Gold Coast. Pic: Supplied

An indicator of Grove’s growth

David Reynolds’ pole position for the Saturday race highlights the progress being made by Grove Racing.

The Saturday pole was the first scored by Grove Racing in a Shootout – tying the amount scored by the team in its prior Kelly Racing iteration – but it overshadows another interesting statistic.

A Grove Mustang has made the cut for the Top 10 Shootout on six out of nine occasions so far in 2022, including the one cancelled at the Repco Bathurst 1000.

Compare that to last year, when the Kelly Grove cars made it to just four out of 10 Shootouts across the 2021 season.

To further the point, the Grove cars have been unlucky to make the cut for only six Shootouts in 2022 so far.

Holdsworth qualified 11th for SMP Race 2 and missed the cut by just 0.0350s, while Reynolds missed out by 0.0442s in qualifying 11th for Townsville’s Saturday race.

Reynolds was also inside the top 10 in Sandown’s Saturday morning practice but was bundled out in that afternoon’s Q1 session when the red flag flew in its final moments; he was about 100 metres shy of finishing a lap that was more than good enough to allow him to progress…

How close Courtney came to a DNF

There was method in James Courtney’s madness to stay on track late in Sunday’s race despite his Ford Mustang’s folded bonnet almost completely obscuring his view out of the windscreen.

The #5 Tickford Racing Ford Mustang spent two long periods of time in the garage during Race 32: the first to fix the damage after being swept up in the Lap 1 crash at the beach chicane, then a second to create a bigger radiator opening after the engine began to overheat.

All that time spent immobile meant Courtney was fighting a lap-by-lap battle to complete enough of the race to be classified as a finisher.

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With the race running to its full scheduled distance, Courtney needed to complete 75 percent of the 85 scheduled laps, or 64 laps.

If Courtney had pitted at his first opportunity under the late race Safety Car to have his bonnet bashed back down, he would have lost a further lap to the field.

His hand was eventually forced when he was shown a Mechanical Black Flag, forcing him to head to the pits.

However, by that point he had almost caught up to the back of the Safety Car train, giving him enough time to pit for repairs and rejoin without losing another lap.

It may have been risky, but Courtney and Tickford reaped the reward.

The #5 Mustang had 64 laps to its name when the chequered flag waved, earning 54 important points for both driver and team in their respective championship battles.

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