THE CHAMPIONSHIP LEADERS THAT DIDN’T GET THE JOB DONE

Jason Bright fights for position at Oran Park in 2004. Pic: an1images.com / Graeme Neander

WINNING the Supercars Championship is extremely hard to do, the proof being that only 25 drivers have ever secured the championship crown since the Australian Touring Car Championship began in 1960.

But there is a whole list of drivers to have led the championship at one or more points in their career, but just couldn’t clinch the championship win.

Chaz Mostert is the latest to add himself to that list, taking the lead of the championship after Race 2 of this season at Sydney Motorsport Park, in doing so becoming the 39th driver to have led the championship at some point.

However, he will be hoping to get himself off the list of the 16 drivers that have led the championship but not gone on to win it.

Mostert and Will Davison are the only two active drivers to have led but not won the title. Davison, currently driving the #17 Shell V-Power Racing Mustang for Dick Johnson Racing, has led the championship at differing points in his career.

Davison first held the top spot with Ford Performance Racing in 2012 after his victory in Race 2 at Adelaide and last led the championship with TEKNO Autosports in 2016 at the end of the Symmons Plains round.

Will Davison’s 2012 Adelaide 500 win sent him into the lead of the championship for the first time in his career. Photo: an1images.com / Justin Deeley.

However, Jason Bright is the driver with the most races spent as championship leader without becoming champion. He held the top spot after 21 different races, leading at various stages between Adelaide 2001 (with the Holden Racing Team) and Oran Park in 2004 with PWR Racing.

Bright’s 1998 Bathurst 1000-winning co-driver Steven Richards also sits on the list of championship leaders not crowned as champion. He led the points for a period in 2004 during the Eastern Creek and Hidden Valley rounds.

Fabian Coulthard also spent time at the top of the pointscore – he led the standings after 11 races throughout his career, the first in 2015 at Adelaide (for Brad Jones Racing, 2015 the only time the team has ever led the Supercars Championship) and the last with DJR Team Penske in 2017 after his podium finish in the Bathurst 1000.

Greg Murphy’s first race at Calder in 1997 in the Australian Touring Car Championship resulted in a race win and instant championship lead. The Kiwi never again sat atop of the pointscore in his Supercars career. Photo: an1images.com / Graeme Neander.

Despite all his Bathurst 1000 success and his 28 Supercars Championship race victories, Greg Murphy only led the championship once in his career, after his Race 1 debut win at Calder Park in 1997 for the Holden Racing Team.

There are a range of other significant drivers to have led the championship without winning it, they include: George Fury (in 1983 and 1987), John Harvey (1976 and 1979), Allan Grice (1975), Allan Jones (1993), Larry Perkins (1995), Todd Kelly (2007), Wayne Gardner (1997) and Michael Caruso (below, after the 2016 Adelaide 500).

Unique circumstances have also meant small capacity car drivers have led the ATCC at various stages. Mike Stillwell spent time in the lead of the championship at various points in 1972 given the unique point scoring system of the time that meant his Escort could score considerable points despite finishing behind the outright cars.

Peter Doulman (in 1993) led the championship after the exclusive two litre race at the opening round at Amaroo Park was completed, a format that didn’t continue into the remaining rounds of the championship.

Jordan Treloar is an emerging motorsport reporter who graduated from Charles Sturt University with first class Honours in his Bachelor of Exercise Science (Honours) degree. He has interned at The Western Advocate and joined the V8 Sleuth team for its coverage of the 2021 Repco Bathurst 1000. He continues to report on various categories for V8 Sleuth in 2022.