10 years, 10 moments: Darwin's biggest headlines

  • Repco Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 09/06/2021
  • By James Pavey

Next weekend’s Merlin Darwin Triple Crown will mark the 24th straight year Supercars will tackle Hidden Valley Raceway.

The last 10 years have seen dramatic accidents, surprise winners and milestones, as well as a rare doubleheader.

Ahead of next weekend’s Repco Supercars Championship return to action, Supercars.com runs through 10 key storylines from the previous decade.

2011: Restart chaos

Rick Kelly’s remarkable win from 12th on the grid on the Saturday was aided by a crazy restart, which saw victory slip from Mark Winterbottom’s grasp.

Winterbottom had dominated the race, only to be pegged back due to a late Safety Car.

Jamie Whincup gained an overlap on the restart, with Shane van Gisbergen and Lee Holdsworth also buying in on the run to Turn 1.

The four drivers tripped over each other, handing the lead to Kelly on a platter.

2012: FPR speed, Triple Eight smarts

Will Davison claimed both poles in 2012, proving Ford Performance Racing’s title bid was genuine following a quick start to the season.

However, FPR was outsmarted in both races by Triple Eight’s leading charges, with Whincup and Craig Lowndes sharing the wins.

Whincup used strong tyre management to come from fourth to win, helping him regain the series lead over Davison by just two points.

Lowndes returned serve on Sunday to claim his first win of the season; with Davison sixth, Whincup left Darwin 38 points to the good.

It would prove pivotal in the title fight, with Whincup going on to claim championship No. 4.

2013: Monster accident

The 2013 event provided a number of key storylines; David Reynolds took the second pole position of his career before being punted by Winterbottom, handing Whincup victory.

Winterbottom bounced back with victory in Sunday’s first race, while Whincup was given a drive-through penalty in the third race for spinning his wheels during his stop.

However, the third and final race saw a dramatic multi-car accident which caused a red flag and eliminated several drivers.

Caught in the melee were Tim Slade, Lee Holdsworth, Alex Davison, Dean Fiore, David Wall, Alex Premat and James Moffat.

It came after Scott McLaughlin and Jason Bright tangled, leading to a chain reaction which saw Fiore tipped onto his side.

Lowndes won the shortened race after the mess was cleared.

2014: Frosty’s ultimate performance

Winterbottom rated his victory in the 2014 finale as a better drive than his Bathurst win some eight months earlier.

Having started 10th, Winterbottom had it all to do, and defied a racy van Gisbergen at the death to clinch a hard-fought win.

It was a genuine tyre battle; despite just two sets of soft tyres being allocated for the race, Winterbottom was one of several drivers to run all three stints on the soft.

Van Gisbergen and third place finisher Whincup ran the hard-soft-soft option, ensuring Winterbottom had a challenge on his hands keeping them behind.

With six laps remaining, van Gisbergen overtook Whincup and closed to the bumper of Winterbottom, but didn’t have enough to steal victory from the Ford driver.

Winterbottom extended his series lead to 161 points, but failed to claim the title over a rampant Whincup.

2015: Lowndes brings up the ton

The 2015 event saw wins for Chaz Mostert and Reynolds, but the weekend’s milestone moment came in the guise of Lowndes.

The second Saturday sprint was one to remember for Lowndes, who became the first driver to win 100 races.

Starting fifth for the 21-lap race, Lowndes exited Turn 1 in the lead after front-row starters Rick Kelly and Fabian Coulthard came together.

From there, he was untouchable and sailed away to bring up the century, becoming the first driver to do so.

2016: Holdsworth injured in pile-up

Van Gisbergen’s Sunday win in 2016 was overshadowed by a nightmarish start to the race, which saw Mostert and Fabian Coulthard’s Falcons torn up following a three-way tussle with James Moffat.

However, the biggest fears were left for Lee Holdsworth, who had been bumped off at high speed and smashed sideways into the concrete barrier exiting Turn 1.

Holdsworth suffered a fracture in his right knee and two fractured ribs alongside his fractured pelvis, and was sidelined for two events.

2017: DJRTP double

The 2017 belonged to the Shell V-Power Racing Team, with Coulthard and McLaughlin sharing the wins.

Saturday began with pole for Rick Kelly, whose afternoon ended in disaster when his steering locked, sending him into the tyre wall at the back of the circuit.

Coulthard capitalised on being the first driver in the pits, and was unchallenged from there.

On Sunday, McLaughlin added to his second place from a day earlier to win, despite losing the start to Whincup.

2018: Double Dave delight

Having scored his first solo win three years earlier, Reynolds returned with Erebus Motorsport to dominate on Sunday.

It marked another key moment for Reynolds and Erebus, which combined to defeat the all-conquering McLaughlin.

Reynolds nearly claimed a Bathurst double four months later, only for cramps to ruin his charge.

He win the final race of the season in Newcastle, which remains his most recent win to date.

2019: Scotty’s crown

In over a decade of trying, no driver had ever taken out the Darwin Triple Crown.

In 2019, as he sailed to a record-breaking title win, McLaughlin did just that, winning both races alongside his Sunday shootout success.

The Sunday win was his 12th in 16 starts to open the 2019 season, with McLaughlin opening up his series lead to a staggering 319 points after seven events.

2020: De Pasquale and doubleheaders

With COVID-19 tweaking the 2020 calendar, Hidden Valley Raceway hosted two events for the first time.

The first race of the six was the best of the doubleheader, with Anton De Pasquale and Erebus breaking through for a stunning victory.

The likes of Whincup and McLaughlin both copped separate penalties, with a host of others also finding trouble.

By race’s end, with De Pasquale over the line ahead of James Courtney, with Scott Pye rounding out a popular podium.

The Repco Supercars Championship field will return to the Northern Territory for the Merlin Darwin Triple Crown across June 18-20. Tickets are available here.

The event will be broadcast live on Foxtel and will be streamed on Kayo, and will be broadcast live and free on Seven.

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