The final race of the season was just a thrilling as the start, with Jamie Whincup locked in battle with David Reynolds, in similar fashion to his dual with James Courtney at the Clipsal 500.
Supercars.com listed defining moments 20-11 yesterday – here’s the top 10 memorable stories of the 2016 championship.
10. Holdsworth’s major crash
On the opening lap in Darwin Team 18 driver Lee Holdsworth’s Commodore slammed concrete and left him with extensive injuries.
The Charlie Schwerkolt-owned team had only just formed for the 2016 season and had made progress until that moment, when Holdsworth fractured his pelvis and the car was written off.
Holdsworth sat out three events, with the team utilising young driver Kurt Kostecki and his Dunlop Series Supercar just to make it to the grid in Townsville. He improved at his second run at Queensland Raceway.
Co-driver Karl Reindler stepped in for Sydney Motorsport Park before Holdsworth’s Sandown return.
Teammates Jamie Whincup and Shane van Gisbergen fought at the front throughout the season, and at the penultimate round it happened – one punted the other.
Whincup was trying to pass early in Sunday’s first race and had a messy lunge that sent van Gisbergen sliding off the road.
The #88 was hit with an immediate drive through penalty and while van Gisbergen fell to the back of the 10, he drove back up to third while his competitor meandered at the rear of the field, unable to make progress.
Team boss Roland Dane was surprisingly calm about the matter, though Whincup only hurt himself in the incident.
At Sandown, Nissan made the announcement it would remain in the sport until at least 2018 and confirmed one driver in Michael Caruso, who has run the ‘official’ Nissan branded car during his time with the team.
It was confirmed the brand would continue backing the Kellys as a four car squad, and would run Altimas moving forward.
The announcement followed Holden in committing to the Gen2 Supercars era.
Just before Nissan’s news, Supercars confirmed its first full-time female racer in decades in Simona De Silvestro. The former IndyCar racer impressed at Bathurst in 2015 as a wild card entry and this year signed on to a three-year deal in the Australian category.
Her team was TBA, but we have since learned she will return in an Altima alongside Michael Caruso, while Todd and Rick Kelly continue in the other garage.
De Silvestro is set to move to Australia and is believed to be finalising plans over the break before getting back into a Nissan at Winton pre-season.
The manufacturer sent shockwaves throughout the Supercars community declaring it would abandon the category, after prior discussions about continuing the deal had all been positive.
Team boss Garry Rogers had been quoted just days before saying it was good news – but then the media release was issued on the eve of the Barbagallo event, saying Volvo would say goodbye to Supercars at the end of the year.
Rogers has taken the matter to court, with mediation XXXX
5. HRT goes to Triple Eight
Holden has committed to a future in Supercars but rather than have Walkinshaw Racing run the official team, Triple Eight will take that honour moving forward.
The Roland Dane squad will develop and race the Gen2 Supercar, and be known as the Red Bull Holden Racing Team from next year onwards, stripping the sponsorship from Walkinshaw and forcing it to reinvent itself for 2017 – though it will remain a two car team.
2007 Supercars champion Garth Tander broke a two-year drought to win one of the biggest races of the year, but after saying in a Sandown press conference he knew what he was doing in 2017, he was dumped by the Holden Racing Team the following week.
Paired with Warren Luff, Tander pulled off a stellar victory at the Sandown 500 while being chased down by Shane van Gisbergen in the closing stages, a loose piece of bodywork threatening to derail the whole HRT campaign.
During his first visit back to the factory after that win, the three-time Bathurst winner was informed he’d be replaced by Scott Pye next year – his plans were still unknown leaving Homebush and heading into the break.
Walkinshaw's announcement on its 2017 driver line-up can be read here.
3. Penske poaching
Some may say Scott McLaughlin’s move to the biggest developing team wasn’t a huge shock, but Ludo Lacroix’s shift there certainly was.
Stood down from his engineering duties at Triple Eight for New Zealand, the technical mastermind’s defection has been a huge talking point up and down pit lane.
DJR Team Penske hasn’t officially announced it yet, but as the team did last year, it has taken the opportunity to bolster the group by nabbing a proven Supercars genius and the sport’s most promising future superstar to add to the fold for 2017.
One year with Red Bull Racing Australia and Shane van Gisbergen was able to take out the Championship after a dominant run home. He earned many of the prestigious prizes including the Jason Richards Memorial Trophy in New Zealand – making himself the first Kiwi to win it – as well as the Pirtek Enduro Cup with Alex Premat.
He sealed the season with a win on Sunday, a performance begging the question – is he going to be unstoppable?
Being elected the Driver’s Driver by his peers was the icing on the cake of a special year.
Will Davison and Jonathon Webb were named the Bathurst champions after a dramatic end to the 1000km race in October, but clarity on the result did not come for some time after Triple Eight’s decision to appeal.
The TEKNO Commodore technically crossed the line second, with Jamie Whincup/Paul Dumbrell’s entry pushing on with a 15-second penalty hanging over it, to be applied post-race.
Whincup was involved in a big accident in the closing laps with Scott McLaughlin, and when attempting to redress had Garth Tander tangle with him, ending the HRT contender’s race.
Post-race, Triple Eight appealed the result, with a protest scheduled at the Melbourne County Court. But it ended in bizarre fashion when it was determined there were no grounds to appeal, leaving TEKNO’s reign safe until October 2017.
Read in full Triple Eight's lodge of protest here.
Read in full the dismissal of Triple Eight's appeal here.
Read in full Davison and Webb's Bathurst win here.