THE FOUR GREATEST RACES FROM SUPER2 SERIES HISTORY

Ryan Walkinshaw and team cheer on Nick Percat after he pipped Chas Mostert to the line at Bathurst in 2012. Pic: an1images.com / Justin Deeley

THE Dunlop Super2 Series celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2020, marking two decades of fostering talented young drivers, engineers, mechanics and even journalists and broadcasters.

Since the opening race of what was then known as the Konica V8 Lites Series at Eastern Creek in 2000, there have been over 340 second-tier Supercars races.

Many have been absolute barn-burners.

We touched on a few of them during Episode 59 of the V8 Sleuth Podcast powered by Timken, which celebrated some of the magic memories produced by the first 20 years of the Super2 Series – listen to the full show below!

Here are some of the races we touched on during the podcast; let us know what your favourite V8 Lites/Konica Series/Konica Minolta Series/Holden Performance Driving Centre Series/Fujitsu Series/Dunlop Series/Dunlop Super2 Series races have been on the V8 Sleuth Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages!

Besnard holds off Wakefield into the Kink off the start of one of the 2000 Lakeside races – they’d race through here side-by-side at full speed later that day! Pic: an1images.com / Dirk Klynsmith

2000 LAKESIDE

The inaugural year of the series delivered one of its greatest races, foreshadowing some of the battles between dedicated second-tier squads and ‘main game’ interlopers that would define its later years.

Stone Brothers Racing became the first top team to venture into what was then called the V8 Lites series, entering an EL Falcon for the Lakeside round for David Besnard – then fresh from several years racing open-wheelers in the United States – for his first V8 Supercars races.

Although Besnard took a first-up pole position, series regulars Wayne Wakefield and Dean Canto immediately showed they would be no pushovers.

FEATURE >> Five big-name drivers that made Super2 Series cameos

The three races that followed produced some of the closest, door-banging, and most thrilling sedan action seen at the Lakeside circuit as Besnard and local hero Wakefield battled for supremacy – at one point the pair raced side-by-side through the Kink and remained that way for most of the following lap!

Besnard took the first sprint from Wakefield and Canto, while the latter claimed the second race – where the grid was set by the previous race’s finishing results but with the top six inverted – while Besnard claimed the final race and the round, but not before being cleared by the stewards over a tangle that sent both Wakefield and Canto off the track.

“It was unfortunate the way it ended – a little tap – but I was holding him up, but you cop it on the chin,” Wakefield said.

Owen Kelly won both Sunday races at Oran Park in 2007 to secure the fourth and final round win of his Super2 Series career. Pic: an1images.com / Justin Deeley

2007 ORAN PARK

Few would have tipped Owen Kelly would be the winner at the end of the wet second race of the 2007 Oran Park round.

After all, he was starting from pit lane!

Driving Image Racing’s ex-Brad Jones Falcon, Kelly had been the last finisher (25th) in the 34-car field in Race 1 after getting wiped out on the opening lap by an out-of-control Chris Alajajian and being forced to visit the pits for repairs.

Then his car stalled as he prepared the leave the line for the formation lap of Race 2, forcing him to the pits in order to prove to the officials that his car was able to start unassisted.

That done, Kelly was still rolling down pit lane towards the exit when the race started, then had to wait behind four other cars that elected to start from the lane.

Despite giving a sizable head-start to the 28 cars that took the start from the grid, Kelly drove like a demon over the following 16 laps to claim a remarkable victory!

In case you thought Kelly did it the easy way … here drops a wheel off at the kink after rounding up Chris Alajajian on his way to the Race 2 win. Pic: an1images.com / Dirk Klynsmith

The lap chart for the #49 Image Racing BA Falcon tells the story best:

Start: 33rd, in pit lane behind four other cars
L1: 28th
L2: 23rd
L3: 17th
L4: 13th
L5: 9th
L6: 7th (Safety Car)
L7: 9th (SC)
L8: 9th (SC)
L9: 6th
L10: 6th
L11: 4th
L12: 4th
L13: 3rd
L14: 2nd
L15: 1st
L16/Finish: 1st

Kelly then won the third race (again held in the rain) from seventh on the grid – set by aggregate points – to clinch the round win.

Adding to the remarkable nature of the result were the events of the round that preceded it – a story you can hear in the podcast above!

Todd Kelly and David Reynolds chat with Jason Richards during the 2011 Clipsal 500 Adelaide weekend. Pic: an1images.com

2011 ADELAIDE

The second and final Dunlop Series race at the 2011 Clipsal 500 Adelaide may not have been a thriller, but it stands as one of the most emotional victories in series’ history: it was the last win behind the wheel of a V8 Supercar for Jason Richards.

The popular Kiwi stunned the Supercars community when he revealed his cancer diagnosis late in 2010, stepping out of the cockpit of his #8 Brad Jones Racing Holden indefinitely to focus on treatment.

Although he was unable to return for the start of the 2011 Supercars Championship, Richards was a late inclusion to the Dunlop Series grid for the season-opener at Adelaide, nominated to drive Greg Murphy Racing’s #45 car.

Still recovering from a round of treatments, Richards’ participation in the weekend hinged on how he felt after driving the car in Thursday’s opening practice sessions. Despite minimal laps, the fifth-fastest time in the afternoon session illustrated Richards would be a force come the races.

A spin in qualifying left him 12th on the grid, a position he held in Friday’s opening 24-lapper.

Richards took the chequered flag for an emotional victory. Pic: an1images.com

Come Saturday, Richards was the star of the show.

Rising to eighth on the opening lap, Richards picked his way forward amid a series of bruising early laps. He hit the lead on the ninth lap and didn’t look back, claiming the race victory ahead of Scott McLaughlin and Nick Percat.

“I still have a massive battle on my hands but this is a great win mentally,” Richards said.

“I’m not looking at doing the whole Fujitsu Series. I’m looking at doing maybe some more races but my 100 percent focus is my cancer.

“If I get back into a V8 in the main series or the Fujitsu Series then my focus will shift to the thing that I love and I can’t afford to do that because I need to stay focused.

“At this point I’ll do bits and pieces to stay around the race track during the year.”

After his victorious Super2 cameo Richards raced a Supercar for the last time a week later at Albert Park, tragically losing his battle with cancer in December.

Percat held off Mostert on the run to the flag to seal a weekend sweep of the 2012 Bathurst round. Pic: an1images.com / Justin Deeley

2012 BATHURST

We made mention of the ‘Class of 2012’ in the podcast, referencing the Dunlop Series season where future main game stars Scott McLaughlin, Chaz Mostert, Nick Percat and Scott Pye battled for the title.

The second race at Bathurst was one of the best races of that year, effectively a showdown between the Walkinshaw Racing-aligned Percat and the Ford Performance Racing-aligned Mostert.

The Falcon pilot took pole position, but it was Percat who prevailed in the opening race after a poor start from Mostert forced him into a recovery drive that eventually netted second place.

McLaughlin was on course to finish in that spot until a late puncture dropped him to 13th, while Pye finished a comfortable third.

The second and final race, held ahead of the Top 10 Shootout on Saturday afternoon, was an absolute cracker.

While Percat again led into the first corner, a better start from Mostert saw the pair engage in a fierce battle over the following 14 laps.

The Holden pilot copped a bad sportsmanship flag for blocking, while the Ford brushed the concrete across the top of the mountain in the closing stages.

Mostert regained the lost ground to pull alongside Percat on the run down Conrod Straight for the final time. Neither driver blinked, so they ran side-by-side through the Chase!

In the end it was Percat that got to the line first by just over a tenth of a second – 0.1285s to be exact, which for comparison is closer than the ‘Great Race’ record 0.1434s margin between Davison/Webb and van Gisbergen/Premat in the 2016 Bathurst 1000.

Will Dale began his media career as a breakfast radio newsreader before joining SPEED TV Australia and FOX SPORTS Australia in 2012 as its Digital Editorial Lead - Motorsport for the next six years, covering all forms of motorsport both in Australia and internationally. He became part of the V8 Sleuth team in 2018.