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Saturday, May 25, 2024


ZAK Best’s pole position for Race 21 of the Repco Supercars Championship set new benchmarks both on the timing screen and in the record books. Details and what it means for the young Tickford Racing driver in this week’s Stats Insider.

Best’s effort at The Bend Motorsport Park makes him the youngest driver in the history of the ATCC/Supercars Championship to take pole position. At 20 years and 292 days, Best achieved the feat just in time, displacing Scott McLaughlin’s pole position in a Garry Rogers Motorsport Volvo at Winton Motor Raceway in 2014 by a mere eight days.

Best joins McLaughlin as the only two drivers to set an ATCC/Supercars Championship pole position before their 21st birthday.

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However, it’s the broader company he joins in the list of youngest pole sitters that suggests good signs again for the driver of the #78 Mustang.

The 10 youngest pole-sitters and their first poles, span six of the seven decades that the Championship has held races, all with different backgrounds in different eras, but the nine drivers other than Best have one thing in common: Winning races, and plenty of them.

The current era drivers in the top 10 have pedigree: Cameron Waters (first pole: 2016 Wanneroo), Chaz Mostert (2015 Wanneroo) and Shane van Gisbergen (2012 Sandown 500) represent three of the top five drivers in the current Championship standings.

Shane van Gisbergen goes wheel-to-wheel with Zak Best. Pic: Mark Horsburgh

The young pole-sitters of the 2000s share six Bathurst wins and two Supercars Championship titles: Like McLaughlin, Garth Tander scored his maiden pole for Garry Rogers Motorsport (2000 Clipsal 500), while Rick Kelly’s maiden pole in the shootout for the 2004 Sandown 500 on a damp track was notable not just for the time, but the fact he ran the shootout instead of co-driver Greg Murphy.

Glenn Seton’s first of his nine ATCC poles could be considered fortunate like Best’s; 1987 Lakeside’s grid was determined by two qualifying sessions, but the second one was washed out, giving Seton his first ATCC pole position.

Craig Lowndes burst onto the scene, but it wasn’t until 1996’s fourth round at Symmons Plains where he could get pole after John Bowe won the first three of the season. Like Seton in 1987, he was helped by wet qualifying conditions, and shared the front row with Peter Brock.

And representing the good old days of Australian Touring Car racing is Supercars Hall of Fame driver Ian “Pete” Geoghegan. In the second ever ATCC race at Lowood in September 1961, he started the Jaguar Mark I on the pole, and while beaten by Bill Pitt on that day, he would go on take five Australian Touring Car Championship titles, only eclipsed by Jamie Whincup.

The remainder of the youngest 10 pole-sitters behind Zak Best have the unique achievement of having at least eight ATCC/Supercar Championship race wins each, and at least nine pole positions each. Seven of the nine have won the Championship. Good signs for the driver of the barely sponsored #78 Ford.

Youngest Drivers to get Pole Postion in the Australian Touring Car Championship/Supercars Championship

DriverFirst PoleAge at first Pole StartPolesRace WinsChampionships
Zak Best2022 The Bend20 years 292 days100
Scott McLaughlin2014 Winton20 years 300 days76563
Rick Kelly2004 Sandown21 years 239 days10131
Craig Lowndes1996 Symmons Plains21 years 270 days431103
Cameron Waters2016 Wanneroo21 years 278 days1680
Glenn Seton1987 Lakeside21 years 335 days9402
Ian Geoghegan1961 Lowood22 years 130 days1095
Garth Tander2000 Adelaide23 years 8 days30561
Chaz Mostert2015 Wanneroo23 years 22 days23200
Shane van Gisbergen2012 Sandown23 years 130 days42682
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