The greatest comebacks: Lowest grid spots for race winners

  • Repco Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 12/08/2021
  • By James Pavey

Back in March, Shane van Gisbergen put in the drive of his career at Sandown to win from 17th on the grid.

It came amid van Gisbergen’s battle with a broken collarbone, making his feat all the more unbelievable.

To October’s season resumption at Winton, van Gisbergen’s win from 17th remains in the top 10 of wins from the worst starting position.

Six times has a race been won from 20th or worse.

The biggest the grid will be in 2021 will be 26th, at Phillip Island and Bathurst, where there will be two wildcards.

Can a new name score some history when the 2021 Repco Supercars Championship resumes at Winton?

Supercars.com has listed the 10 best comeback drives in ATCC/Supercars history.

17th: Rick Kelly, 2004

The first such instance of a driver winning from 17th of the grid came at Eastern Creek, now named Sydney Motorsport Park, 17 years ago.

On a rainy Sydney day, Kelly became the youngest driver to win a solo round of the championship.

The reigning Bathurst winner, the 21-year-old Kelly was declared the winner in a 77-lapper called 10 laps short due to worsening conditions.

17th: Will Davison/Jonathon Webb, 2016

Davison and Webb the beneficiary of Whincup's brainfade

A dozen years later, Davison and Webb combined for an unlikely victory for Tekno Autosports.

Davison crossed the line in a Triple Eight sandwich, but a penalty for Jamie Whincup saw the Tekno car classified as the winner.

Whincup, who had dominated the race with Paul Dumbrell, was handed a time penalty over the infamous ‘redress’ incident which wiped out Garth Tander and Scott McLaughlin.

17th: Shane van Gisbergen, 2021

Van Gisbergen celebrates his remarkable win

Just over four months ago, van Gisbergen, nursing a broken collarbone, put in a drive for the ages to hand a third race win for grid spot No. 17.

Van Gisbergen went long and, on fresh tyres, mowed down the lead pack in the closing laps.

The Kiwi passed Chaz Mostert and Jamie Whincup in one go, before clearing Cameron Waters on the final lap to secure the unlikely win.

19th: Scott McLaughlin, 2018

McLaughlin surprised even himself in Perth

Three years earlier, van Gisbergen’s countryman McLaughlin won from 19th on the grid in Perth.

After a Q1 exit, speed and strategy were the tones of the 200km race, with Craig Lowndes also racing from 25th to third.

McLaughlin would go on to win the championship.

20th: Jamie Whincup, 2007

Whincup was brilliant at Winton in 2007 Pic: AN1 Images

Whincup’s Winton round win in 2007 came after he scored a stunning win in the Saturday race from 20th.

Several frontrunners failed in the tricky conditions, with Whincup finding himself in the lead late on.

An error late in the race wouldn’t prevent the win, with Whincup sealing the overall round win with two second places on the Sunday.

21st: Jonathon Webb, 2010

On a day Whincup’s 2010 title charge fell flat, Webb emerged the victor in one of the most thrilling races of the modern era.

As rain lashed Sydney Olympic Park, the leaders and chasing pack all hit drama.

Through the disaster emerged Webb, who on wet tyres, sailed to a remarkable maiden main game win.

25th: Chaz Mostert/Paul Morris, 2014

The 2014 Great Race is perhaps Bathurst’s best, and the winners started from the very back.

An incident at Turn 2 by Morris saw the #6 Pepsi Max Falcon nursing damage for the rest of the race.

When Whincup infamously ran out of fuel, Mostert was there to capitalise on lap 161, crossing the line for a win no one saw coming.

29th: David Besnard, 2004

Besnard follows the Safety Car Pic: AN1 Images

The 2004 season saw Besnard score a controversial win for WPS Racing amid a Safety Car drama and race scoring issue.

Greg Murphy crossed the line and was awarded the win, but the mid-race Safety Car and pit stops had caused confusion.

A week later, it was determined that Besnard, who initially classified 18th, was the winner.

30th: Mark Skaife, 2006

Skaife won from 30th at Oran Park

The most recent reverse grid race in the championship, Race 2 at Oran Park saw Skaife pull out a performance of the ages.

Skaife had failed to finish the Saturday opener, and started Race 2 from 30th.

It did little to deter Skaife, who claimed his 14th career win at Oran Park.

38th: Mark Skaife, 2000

Skaife's 2000 record still stands Pic: AN1 Images

Four years earlier, Skaife set the record - which, due to current grid sizes, is unlikely to be beaten - on the streets of Adelaide.

A rear-of-grid penalty applied on Sunday, following a Safety Car breach on Saturday, saw Skaife line up 38th.

Skaife still won the race, despite the lowly grid spot, a mid-race stop-go penalty and tricky conditions.

He would go on to win the 2000 title, and added championship wins in 2001 and 2002.

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