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Mount Panorama
Wednesday, May 29, 2024


SYMMONS Plains was the site of one of the most damaging multi-car crashes in Repco Supercars Championship history in 2017, when 12 cars were wiped out in one fell swoop.

The incident began on the second lap of the wet Saturday race when Fabian Coulthard – who copped a 35 championship point penalty – slid into Rick Kelly coming under the circuit’s iconic bridge, triggering carnage that left almost half the field with seriously damaged cars and forced the race to be red-flagged.

But what were the histories of the cars involved and what has happened to each of them since?

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Walkinshaw Racing / Holden Commodore VF

2017 was Walkinshaw Racing’s first year after losing its status as Holden’s factory squad and Pye’s car for that season had been the last car to carry the ‘Holden Racing Team’ name to victory.

Built in mid-2016 as Garth Tander’s car for the remainder of the year, the 2007 Supercars Champion paired with Warren Luff to take a popular victory in the Sandown 500 before being involved in a dramatic late-race crash at Bathurst while fighting for second place.

12 months later, now in Pye and Luff’s hands, this car made it to the Mount Panorama podium with a stirring drive to second place.

It spent 2018 largely as a spare car, save for an appearance at the Sandown 500 as the #25 entry for James Courtney and Jack Perkins before becoming Courtney’s car for the full 2019 season, highlighted by a third-place finish for he and Perkins at Bathurst, before sitting on the sidelines in 2020.

The car had been sold at auction on the eve of the 2018 Bathurst 1000 and passed to the winner – a private collector – at the end of the 2020 season, and it has recently been restored to VF Commodore trim and its livery from its 2016 Sandown victory.

Pye’s car has been restored to its 2016 Tander/Luff Sandown 500-winning glory. Pic: Instagram / @walkinshawgroup

Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport / Holden Commodore VF

While Douglas’ car was one of the four that couldn’t be repaired in time for Sunday’s race, this car continues to be raced in Supercars’ second tier as of 2022.

Built new by Triple Eight Race Engineering for the start of the Car of the Future era in 2013, this chassis spent its entire ‘main game’ life with LDM.

Dean Fiore campaigned this car in Dodo Insurance livery throughout the 2013 season and sat idle throughout 2014, before returning in Nick Percat’s hands for the start of the 2015 season.

However, damage in the start-line shunt in the final race at Albert Park that year saw the car sidelined for repairs, and returned to action later that year with Tim Blanchard, LDM’s other pilot for 2015, and was Andre Heimgartner’s car throughout the 2016 season.

Douglas was one of several drivers to grace the #3 LDM entry’s cockpit in 2017, with Matthew Brabham, Cameron McConville, Alex Davison and Aaren Russell all driving it during LDM’s final season as a ‘main game’ operation.

The car then moved to the Super2 Series with Matt Chahda in 2018 and has been campaigned by Zane Morse in the second-tier series since 2020.

Douglas’ car was in action at Sydney Motorsport Park in 2022 with Zane Morse in Super2. Pic: Nathan Wong

Brad Jones Racing / Holden Commodore VF

Brad Jones Racing was another team that had all its cars involved in the crash except, unlike WR and LDM, the Albury squad was left with three damaged cars.

Worse still, the Saturday race at Symmons was the first race for Percat’s car following a massive rebuild; it’s the same car that carried the Holden ‘equality’ livery at Albert Park, where Percat was hit by a brakeless Lee Holdsworth.

The car was built brand new in 2016 for Jason Bright in what proved his final season with BJR, then was Percat’s through 2017 – and was repaired in time for the Sunday race in Tasmania – before serving as a spare car in 2018.

Upgraded to ZB Commodore trim, it served as BJR’s wildcard chassis in 2019 for Jack Smith and Tim Blanchard, while Tim Slade stepped into it for a couple of rounds while his newer car was repaired, after which Macauley Jones finished the season in the car.

It has been Smith’s car since he moved up to a full-time championship drive in 2020 and will be on the grid this weekend.

Percat’s car will be on the grid at Symmons Plains this weekend in the hands of Jack Smith. Pic: Nathan Wong

Brad Jones Racing / Holden Commodore VF

Not only was Slade’s car repaired by BJR in time for the Sunday race at Symmons Plains, but he rewarded his crew’s efforts by qualifying fourth!

This car had been built new for the 2016 season and served as Slade’s car for his first year with the Albury-based team, famously breaking through for his first Supercars Championship race wins with a weekend sweep at Winton.

Slade was unlucky not to add another win to his tally at the Gold Coast in 2017 when a late pit stop issue dropped he and co-driver Andre Heimgartner from the lead to third place.

Converted to ZB Commodore trim for 2018, this car served as Macauley Jones’ steed for his wildcard appearances that season, then made its final race outings in mid-2019 with Jones at the wheel and remains at BJR as a spare chassis.

Slade’s car made its last race appearance with Macauley Jones at The Bend in 2019. Pic: an1images.com / Dirk Klynsmith

Nissan Motorsport / Nissan Altima

This was the only chassis whose competition life ended with the Symmons Plains crash.

Nissan Motorsport built the car ahead of the 2016 season in which it served as Kelly’s #15 entry, carrying backing from Sengled following the end of the team’s long-term deal with Jack Daniel’s.

Kelly’s best results that season were a pair of fourths at Winton and – ironically – Symmons Plains, while he paired with Russell Ingall at the Enduro Cup races.

Kelly remained in this car for 2017, but the severity of the damage to key chassis bars – caused when the Nissan was T-boned by Will Davison’s Holden – led the team to deem it a write-off.

The Symmons Plains crash was the end the line for Kelly’s car. Pic: an1images.com / Dirk Klynsmith

TEKNO Autosports / Holden Commodore VF

Davison was the only driver hospitalised in the wake of the shunt, sustaining a small break to a vertebrae and a concussion following a 42G impact he described as the biggest of his career.

His #19 Woodstock Bourbon Holden was the very same chassis he’d driven to victory at Mount Panorama six months earlier with team owner Jonathon Webb.

The car had begun its life as a Triple Eight-built chassis, making its debut in mid-2015 in Darrel Lea STIX colours with Shane van Gisbergen, although the Kiwi swapped back to their original chassis after only a handful of events.

Davison drove this car full-time throughout 2016, when he won the Sunday race at Symmons Plains in addition to his Bathurst triumph, and throughout 2017 after TEKNO completed its post-Tasmania repairs in time for the following Phillip Island round.

The car was sold to Eggleston Motorsport for 2018, who fielded it in Super2 with Dom Storey (2018) and Justin Ruggier (2019) aboard, and the team is now nearing the end of a restoration on the car to put it back to its 2016 Bathurst-winning guise.

Davison’s car was campaigned by Justin Ruggier (#88) in the 2019 Super2 Series. Pic: an1images.com / Dirk Klynsmith

Brad Jones Racing / Holden Commodore VF

While this chassis survived the Symmons Plains shunt, its competition career ended only a few months later following an even bigger crash.

Built new in mid-2015 and nicknamed ‘Alice the Snow Leopard’ by number one mechanic Sam Cosgrove, this car was Fabian Coulthard’s for the balance of his final season with BJR.

Blanchard took the chassis over for 2016 and campaigned it in CoolDrive colours throughout that season and into 2017.

Repaired in time to take part in Sunday’s race at Symmons Plains, this car’s racing life ended in the co-driver qualifying race for the 2017 Sandown 500 when Todd Hazelwood was launched into a series of rolls in a savage crash at the Esses.

Deemed unfit for racing, the stripped chassis has since been turned into a simulator rig by BJR race engineer Tony Woodward.

Blanchard’s car ended its racing career in this horrifying crash at the 2017 Sandown 500, from which Todd Hazelwood was miraculously unscathed. Pic: Brad Jones Racing

Walkinshaw Racing / Holden Commodore VF

The penultimate car built by Walkinshaw Racing under the ‘Holden Racing Team’ banner, Courtney gave it a memorable victory at its debut race meeting, holding off Jamie Whincup to win the second Saturday sprint at the 2016 Adelaide 500.

Courtney raced the car for the remainder of the season and into 2017 until the Symmons shunt, where damage sidelined it from the Sunday race and the next few rounds while repairs were made.

It returned to action in time for the Enduro Cup races and was used by Courtney for the remainder of the year, then sat on the sidelines – still in VF Commodore trim – for the next two years.

The car made a one-off Super2 appearance with Tyler Everingham during 2020 before being bought by current owner Bradley Neill, who raced it in the opening round of the 2021 second-tier season.

Since then, Neill has had the car restored to its 2016 Adelaide race-winning trim, recently campaigning the car at the Phillip Island Classic historic race meeting.

Courtney’s car in action at the 2022 Phillip Island Classic. Pic: Bec Hind

Garry Rogers Motorsport / Holden Commodore VF

Remarkably, this car went on to win a Super2 Series title after its Symmons Plains mishap!

This car was one of four built brand new for the 2017 season following the end of Garry Rogers Motorsport’s contract with Volvo; two were built for its two Supercars entries and two more for Super2.

Repaired after its crash in Tasmania, Tander scored a third-place finish in the Saturday race at the subsequent Phillip Island round and a fourth at the Sandown 500 with James Golding.

The car moved to GRM’s Super2 program for 2018 and was Chris Pither’s for his title-winning season, before being driven by Dylan O’Keeffe in 2019, it’s last race appearance prior to GRM shutting down its Supercars program entirely at the end of the year.

Tander’s car was used by Chris Pither to win the 2018 Dunlop Super2 Series title. Pic: an1images.com / Dirk Klynsmith

Garry Rogers Motorsport / Holden Commodore VF

This chassis is rare in that it debuted in Super2 before it was switched to GRM’s Supercars program.

Richard Muscat gave this car its first race in the second-tier races at the 2017 Adelaide 500 before Moffat took it over for the rest of the ‘main game’ season, although it was benched for the Gold Coast and Pukekohe rounds following a late crash in the Bathurst 1000.

The car returned to GRM’s Super2 program for the 2018 and 2019 seasons where it was driven by Mason Barbera.

More recently, the car appeared in Jon McCorkindale’s hands for his maiden Super2 Series outings last year in his distinctive Dial Before You Dig colours.

Moffat’s car made its most recent race appearance with Jon McCorkindale at the final round of the 2021 Super2 Series. Pic: Nathan Wong

Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport / Holden Commodore VF

This chassis was only one year removed from its greatest triumph when it became involved in the Symmons Plains crash.

One of the fleet of Car of the Future chassis built by Triple Eight for 2013, this car originally went to TEKNO Autosports for Jonathon Webb to pilot in his final full-time Supercars season.

The car sat on the sidelines in 2014 after TEKNO slimmed down to one entry, then was acquired by Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport the following year following Nick Percat’s crash at Albert Park to become the team’s #222 entry for the remainder of the season.

Percat remained in the car for 2016, when he took an upset victory at the Adelaide 500 and claimed a podium finish at Bathurst with Cameron McConville.

Repaired after its 2017 Symmons Plains crash, Rullo raced the car through to the Gold Coast round before it was driven by Jack Perkins at Pukekohe and Taz Douglas at Newcastle following the 17-year-old’s split with the team.

It made a handful of Super2 appearances in 2018 with Gerard McLeod, Ricky Capo and Kristian Lindbom aboard, and has been retained ever since by Dumbrell.

Lindbom made his first Super2 start in four seasons aboard this car at Newcastle in 2018. Pic: an1images.com / Dirk Klynsmith
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