Achieving the impossible: Wins from down the grid

  • Repco Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 15/02/2021
  • By James Pavey

Last season, Shane van Gisbergen achieved something no driver had for over two years: he won from a grid spot from outside the top 10.

In 2020, the Red Bull Ampol Racing driver clinched the Race 24 victory in Townsville from 12th on the grid.

Incredibly, van Gisbergen was ninth in the order upon a Safety Car restart with nine laps to go. Armed with fresh tyres, he stormed though the field to win.

In 10 seasons prior to 2021, there were just 14 races where the winner started 11th or lower.

Six winners started from 15th or lower, with the lowest recorded starting spot for a winner, in perhaps the most memorable race on this list, coming from 25th.

With a new qualifying system set to shake up the field again in 2021, drivers will be under pressure to avoid starting out of position.

Can another driver pull off the impossible at the season-opening Repco Mt Panorama 500? Tickets for the event are on sale now. lists the instances winners started from outside the top 10 in the previous decade.

12th: Shane van Gisbergen, Townsville 2020

Van Gisbergen's Race 24 victory came after the Kiwi started 12th. After a long first stint, he was ninth and on fresh tyres after a late Safety Car. He made it to third in just three laps, before teammate Jamie Whincup let him through with four laps to go to attack leader Scott McLaughlin.

He needed little time to clear McLaughlin, and hung the Shell Ford out wide to help Whincup through into second.

19th: Scott McLaughlin, Perth 2018

A fourth straight win in 2018 for McLaughlin came after he started from a lowly 19th following a poor qualifying. He was a big mover early, moving up to 12th as he dodged a Turn 5 squabble on the opening lap. He then gained another five places in the pits.

He led after the second round of stops, and with 34 laps to go, his margin to David Reynolds behind was eight seconds. Reynolds drew closer after the final round of stops, but he bowled a wide at the final corner to aid McLaughlin’s charge to a remarkable win.

13th: Scott McLaughlin/Alex Premat, Gold Coast 2017

An intense Gold Coast finale in 2017 culminated in victory for McLaughlin and Premat. A strong opening stint from Premat lifted the Shell Ford into the top five, before McLaughlin leapfrogged all three Triple Eight Commodores with an early second stop.

The Kiwi drove away in the final stint despite his early stop prompting fears he would run out of fuel. He took the flag 1.5s clear of Whincup, but he eventually stopped returning to pit lane and had to push the car to parc ferme.

17th: Will Davison/Jonathon Webb, Bathurst 2016

Davison and Webb's incredible win came from 17th on the grid, with the former crossing the line without the #19 leading a lap all day. It came after an incident between Whincup, McLaughlin and Garth Tander saw the former slapped with a 15-second penalty.

Saving fuel, Davison held off a rampant van Gisbergen by a margin of just over a tenth of a second, with the Tekno Commodore coughing at the final corner.

15th: Nick Percat, Adelaide 2016

Percat's Adelaide breakthrough in 2016 was a fairytale for Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport, with the former Bathurst winner winning a chaotic rain-soaked affair from 15th.

Percat defied the wild weather and benefited from a smart strategy call to ensure he met fuel drop regulations, before holding off a racy Fabian Coulthard to seal a maiden solo race victory.

11th: James Courtney/Jack Perkins, Gold Coast 2015

Courtney's miserable 2015 season, which was punctuated by a freak injury in Sydney, was highlighted by a brilliant victory on the streets of Surfers.

The factory Holden squad gambled on a three-stop strategy, and it paid off handsomely. It was also the first championship race win for Perkins, coming nine years after his main game debut.

15th: Craig Lowndes/Steven Richards, Bathurst 2015

Qualifying was moved to Saturday following Chaz Mostert's horrific accident the previous afternoon. Lowndes was caught out when rain began to fall, and he only managed a grid spot of 15th for the Great Race.

However, the wily veteran managed to clinch a sixth Bathurst win alongside Richards after teammate Whincup was penalised for a Safety Car infringement late in the race.

25th: Chaz Mostert/Paul Morris, Bathurst 2014

Mostert's last-to-first victory came after he started 25th following a red flag infringement in qualifying. Morris crashed the Falcon at Turn 2 early on as the track began to break up, with the race suspended shortly afterwards.

With the car patched up, Mostert charged to the front in the latter stages, before famously passing Whincup on the final lap as the latter's gamble on fuel failed.

11th: Garth Tander, Townsville 2014

Tander broke a 24-race winless streak by leading a Holden Racing Team one-two. The 2007 champion and teammate Courtney rose from 11th and eighth, with Tander gaining most of his ground by running a longer first stint than his rivals.

He then eased away following a mid-race Safety Car to claim his 53rd career win.

15th: James Courtney, Adelaide 2014

Courtney won a dramatic encounter packed with incidents and controversial penalties, with the 2010 champion fending off Lowndes in a seven-lap shootout.

Van Gisbergen recovered to third despite an early drive-through penalty for a Safety Car restart infringement, with Fabian Coulthard and Rick Kelly also receiving drive-throughs for restart and pit speeding infringements.

Whincup also copped a penalty after the car controller touched the #1 entry during its second stop. The race also featured the infamous first chicane rollover for Jason Bright, with Tander, Mostert, Lee Holdsworth and Scott Pye all wiped out.

16th: Craig Lowndes, Sydney Olympic Park 2012

Lowndes defeated pole man Tim Slade by 1.1s following a tight fuel economy battle over the final stint. It came after Lowndes started a lowly 16th, with Slade leading into the final stint before surrendering the lead due to an error 14 laps from home.

Lowndes had earlier been forced to fight back from a first-lap collision with Tander that saw the #888 entry drop to 23rd.

14th: Mark Winterbottom, Sydney Olympic Park 2011

Winterbottom ended 2011 on a high with victory over Lowndes by just 0.7s on the streets of Sydney Olympic Park.

Whincup clinched a third drivers' title over his teammate by just 35 points in the race, overshadowing Winterbottom's superb fightback.

12th: Shane van Gisbergen, Darwin 2011

A young van Gisbergen had to work for his second career win, denying Lowndes after stealing the lead with three laps to go on his fresher soft tyres.

Winterbottom and Whincup held sway midway through the race, but late charges from van Gisbergen and Lowndes, on their soft tyres after the final stop, decided the outcome.

12th: Rick Kelly, Darwin 2011

A day earlier, Kelly also won from 12th on the grid following a chaotic Hidden Valley thriller. Kelly took advantage of a late restart crash to climb from fifth to first in one corner.

It came after race-long leader Winterbottom made a slow run onto the front straight, with Whincup, van Gisbergen and Holdsworth all bowling wides at Turn 1.

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