Shane van Gisbergen has gone winless in five races, but that hasn’t stopped the Kiwi from recording the best start to a season in the last decade after four events.
Van Gisbergen opened 2021 with a record-equalling six straight wins across the Bathurst, Sandown and Tasmania events to build a healthy series lead.
He missed out at last weekend’s OTR SuperSprint, but with his rivals faltering, the Red Bull Ampol Racing driver extended his series lead to a season-high 190 points.
WATCH: SVG KICKS OFF 2021 WITH VICTORY
Since 2011, no driver has accrued as many points through four events as van Gisbergen’s 1112, and his 190-point lead is by far the greatest.
Only three times between 2011 and 2020 has the leader after four rounds failed to go on to win the championship.
Jamie Whincup, who is currently van Gisbergen’s closest rival, led the standings after four rounds in 2011, 2012 and 2013, the seasons he won the title.
Whincup was dominant between 2011 and 2014
Whincup’s haul of 1095 points after four rounds in 2012 is the next best behind van Gisbergen’s 2021 haul following last weekend’s Tailem Bend event.
The 2014, 2016 and 2017 seasons saw the series leader after four rounds fall short of glory. Mark Winterbottom led Whincup by a massive 166 points after the fourth round in 2014 at Pukekohe.
In 2016, Craig Lowndes led eventual champion van Gisbergen by 91 points, while Whincup trailed Fabian Coulthard by just 22 points in the closely-contested 2017 campaign.
WATCH: SVG'S AMAZING SANDOWN COMEBACK
Scott McLaughlin led the standings after four rounds in each of his three championship-winning seasons.
In 2019, McLaughlin had already claimed seven wins through four events.
Critically, race weekend formats have changed; through four events in 2011, 2012 and 2016, there had been nine races, with eight in 2017 the fewest.
WATCH: SVG MAKES IT SIX IN A ROW
Seasons 2018 and 2019 opened with 10 races through four rounds, 2020 and 2021 had 11, 2013 and 2015 had 12, with 2014 the most with 13.
Race weekends have offered 300 points since 2008, and 2021, for the first time, has seen bonus points awarded for the fastest lap at sprint events.
Van Gisbergen has claimed bonus points twice already; in Race 5 in the wet at Sandown, and the wet-dry Race 9 last weekend.
The #97 pilot has been the one to beat in 2021
At the surface, van Gisbergen will perhaps be delighted his lead is as big as it is; the next venue, Winton Motor Raceway, has only hosted one van Gisbergen victory.
Whincup hasn’t won at the Victorian circuit since 2012, on a weekend he clinched his fourth title.
The Repco Supercars Championship field will return to Victoria for the Winton SuperSprint across May 28-30. Tickets are available here.
The event will be broadcast live on Foxtel and will be streamed on Kayo with highlights on 7 and 7 Plus.
Championship situation after four rounds (since 2011)
Leader: Jamie Whincup, 946 points (4 wins)
Margin: 142 to Craig Lowndes
Leader: Jamie Whincup, 1095 points (2 wins)
Margin: 29 points to Will Davison
Leader: Jamie Whincup, 958 points (3 wins)
Margin: 65 points to Will Davison
Leader: Mark Winterbottom, 941 points (3 wins)
Margin to eventual champion: 166 to Jamie Whincup (3 wins)
Leader: Mark Winterbottom, 937 points (3 wins)
Margin: 12 to Craig Lowndes
Leader: Craig Lowndes, 894 points (1 win)
Margin to eventual champion: 91 to Shane van Gisbergen (1 win)
Leader: Fabian Coulthard, 802 points (2 wins)
Margin to eventual champion: 22 to Jamie Whincup (0 wins)
Leader: Scott McLaughlin, 947 points (3 wins)
Margin: 60 to David Reynolds
Leader: Scott McLaughlin, 1058 points (7 wins)
Margin: 124 to Fabian Coulthard
Leader: Scott McLaughlin, 1024 points (5 wins)
Margin: 101 to Jamie Whincup
Leader: Shane van Gisbergen, 1112 points (6 wins)
Margin: 190 to Jamie Whincup