Bridesmaids no more: Most starts before first Bathurst win

  • Repco Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 24/11/2021
  • By James Pavey

October 13 will always be a special day for Mark Winterbottom, who scored his first Bathurst win eight years ago.

Winterbottom combined with Steven Richards to win the 2013 Great Race, Winterbottom defying Jamie Whincup in an enthralling battle.

The narrative of Winterbottom’s famous victory was centred on ‘finally’, with Winterbottom victorious after a decade of trying.

Winterbottom made his Bathurst debut for Stone Brothers Racing in 2003, but his Great Race chances went to another level when he joined Ford Performance Racing in 2006.

In 2006, after winning the Sandown 500 with Jason Bright, Winterbottom loomed to break his Bathurst duck in just his fourth start. However, engine dramas ended their day early.

A year later, Winterbottom - who claimed pole - looked odds-on to win the 2007 race before he infamously went off at The Chase in the closing laps.

Another pole in 2010 was followed by an accident for co-driver Luke Youlden. Come 2013, and Winterbottom hadn’t even recorded a Bathurst podium in 10 starts.

He finally scored victory at Mount Panorama in his 11th appearance, with Richards winning his third Bathurst 1000.

To 2021, and Winterbottom’s wait of 11 starts before victory isn’t the longest in history. In fact, seven drivers had to wait even longer for their first Bathurst wins.

Some made several starts, but didn’t even score a Bathurst win. Bruce Stewart - not to be confused with Walkinshaw Andretti United’s team boss - made 26 starts between 1965 and 1995.

Stewart claimed three class wins - in 1969, 1971 and 1976 - but fifth overall in 1988 was his best result.

Glenn Seton also made 26 starts without a win, but scored four podiums. He famously missed out from the lead late on in 1995 following an engine failure.

 Jubilation for Frosty and FPR in 2013

Brad Jones made 24 starts, and recorded six podiums - the most by a driver without actually winning the race.

Graham Moore (24 starts), Ray Gulson (23), Terry Finnigan (23), Don Smith (22) and Garry Willmington (22) were all winless Bathurst veterans.

Winterbottom’s contemporaries Jonathon Webb (2016) and David Reynolds (2017) won in their 11th Bathurst appearances.

John French (1981 winner) and John Harvey (1983) needed 14 attempts, with the late Gregg Hansford winning on his 12th attempt, alongside Larry Perkins in 1993.

So who else actually shadows Winterbottom’s wait for a Bathurst win?

14th start: Shane van Gisbergen

Van Gisbergen won on his 14th attempt last year

Can you believe it? The equal-fourth longest wait for Bathurst victory belongs to current points leader Shane van Gisbergen.

Van Gisbergen made his debut as a teenager for Team Kiwi Racing in 2007, and won last year’s race with Garth Tander.

Van Gisbergen’s first Bathurst podium, in 2016, came in his 10th start. That day, he missed out by just 0.1434s to Will Davison. The Kiwi also finished second in 2019.

He had previously missed out in heartbreaking circumstances in 2014; he led late on after scoring pole, but a starter-motor drama robbed him of victory in what was his eighth start.

14th start: Paul Dumbrell

Delight for Dumbrell and Whincup in 2012 Pic: AN1 Images

Paul Dumbrell was aged just 16 years and 341 days when he made his championship debut at Symmons Plains in 1999.

Three months later, he made his Bathurst debut. He would have to wait until 2002 to actually finish a Bathurst race, ending up fifth alongside Larry Perkins.

He retired from full-time racing at the end of 2011, and won the Great Race in 2012 at his first attempt with Jamie Whincup.

17th start: Allan Grice

Grice finally got it done in 1986 Pic: AN1 Images

Allan Grice made 26 starts between 1968 and 2002, but would have to wait until 1986 to win the race.

By 1986, ‘Gricey' had already scored two seconds (1978, 1982) and a third (1983).

The then 43-year-old Grice combined with Graeme Bailey and Roadways Racing to win the 1986 race. Grice drove for 137 of the race’s 163 laps.

He won with Win Percy and the Holden Racing Team four years later, and scored two more podiums in 1991 and 1995.

18th start: Luke Youlden

Nearly two decades of trying for Youlden

A 22-year-old Luke Youlden made his first Bathurst start in 2000, and finished on the 2003 podium with Steven Ellery.

In the years afterwards, Youlden co-drove for Stone Brothers Racing (2005-2007, 2012), Ford Performance Racing (2008-2011), Brad Jones Racing (2013-2015) and DJR Team Penske.

However, he didn’t return to the Bathurst podium until 2017 - but it was in a big way.

Youlden, at the age of 39, helped David Reynolds and Erebus Motorsport to a famous victory on a treacherous, rain-affected day.

He will reunite with Reynolds at Kelly Grove Racing for this year’s race, which will be his 21st start.

22nd start: Paul Morris

Elation for Morris in his 22nd and final start

When Paul Morris made his Bathurst debut in 1991, Chaz Mostert hadn’t even been born.

Morris combined with Mostert to win the 2014 race, which remains an epic.

The duo won from 25th on the grid, which remains the lowest grid spot for a Bathurst winner.

Morris was 46 years old - 24 years Mostert’s senior - when they took FPR to victory lane.

It would also prove to be the final Bathurst start for Morris.

What a way to go out!

The 2021 Repco Supercars Championship and Dunlop Series seasons will conclude at the Repco Bathurst 1000.

Foxtel’s coverage will start on Wednesday 1st December at 8:25 am AEDT on channel 503 and Kayo.

The Seven Network will provide live free to air coverage of the event. Tickets for the event and camping are on sale now.

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