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Contact, crashes and controversy: Five epic title deciders

Supercars
09 Nov
With Adelaide set to decide the 2023 championship, Supercars.com looks back at five epic title deciders this century
4 mins by James Pavey
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  • Kostecki is 131 points ahead of van Gisbergen heading to Adelaide

  • Both 2023 championships will be decided at VAILO Adelaide 500

  • Re-live how '06, '07, '10, '17 and '18 were titles settled in dramatic fashion

The Repco Supercars Championship will be decided at the final round for the first time since 2018, with this month’s VAILO Adelaide 500 set to host history.

Brodie Kostecki is 131 points ahead of Shane van Gisbergen, and is eyeing Erebus Motorsport’s first championship.

Van Gisbergen, however, is determined to secure a third straight championship and deliver an 11th drivers’ title to Triple Eight before he departs for NASCAR.

Supercars season finales have produced drama by the bucket load, with championships settled in thrilling and often controversial fashion.

Ahead of the all-important VAILO Adelaide 500, Supercars.com looks back at five epic title deciders this century.

Kelly vs Lowndes: Phillip Island 2006 

Flashback: Kelly wins title after infamous Lowndes clash

Rick Kelly and Craig Lowndes went into the 2006 finale separated by seven points, and they were locked on equal points heading into the last race of the season. It came to a head early in the race, with Lowndes unsettled by a touch from Kelly. The Bathurst winner was sent into a spin into Rick’s brother Todd, before being collected by Will Davison. Kelly was hit with a drive-through penalty, with Lowndes dragging his damaged Falcon to 29th. Kelly was classified 18th and was declared champion — but it wasn’t over. Triple Eight lodged two post-race protests against Kelly, but a day after the controversy, the HSV Dealer Team star was officially declared champion.

Tander vs Whincup: Philip Island 2007

Flashback: Tander beats Whincup to 2007 title

For the second year in a row, a HSV Dealer Team Holden driver beat a Triple Eight Ford driver in the final race at Phillip Island. On this occasion, Garth Tander beat Jamie Whincup by a margin of two points after a tense finale. Tander won the opening two races of the weekend, but finished fourth in the finale, which was won by Todd Kelly. Whincup finished second, and despite being pushed to fourth by Whincup’s teammate Craig Lowndes in the closing laps, Tander held on.

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Courtney vs Whincup: Sydney Olympic Park 2010

They're all in the fence! Courtney, Whincup and Frosty crash in Sydney

Matthew White’s iconic 'They’re all in the fence’ call still carries weight to this day, with James Courtney winning after a stunning final weekend on the streets of Homebush. Courtney, Jamie Whincup and Mark Winterbottom were all in contention for the championship. Courtney led by 53 points, and the top three in the points were the top three in the Saturday race before a shower hit Sydney Olympic Park. Winterbottom aquaplaned from the lead into the Turn 5 wall and was then followed by Whincup and Courtney. Whincup and Winterbottom were out; Whincup got back out, but wasn’t classified. Courtney finished 15th in his damaged Falcon, and with 14th on Sunday, won the championship.

Whincup vs McLaughlin: Newcastle 2017

Dramatic final lap of the Coates Hire Newcastle 500

A dramatic season-long battle between Triple Eight and DJR Team Penske deserved an epic finish, but few could have predicted the chaos of Newcastle 2017. The fight between Jamie Whincup and Scott McLaughlin went down to the wire, with Whincup winning his seventh title in controversial circumstances. Whincup was 78 points down heading into Sunday after a Saturday collision with Michael Caruso. McLaughlin won the race, taking the orange numbers back. Come Sunday, and pole-sitter McLaughlin was left to battle his way through the pack twice after receiving penalties for pit lane speeding and spinning Simona de Silvestro. McLaughlin was into 11th — which is what he needed to win the crown — when the second-last lap started, but an infamous clash with Craig Lowndes saw the #17 hit with a penalty that handed Whincup the title.

McLaughlin vs van Gisbergen: Newcastle 2018

Van Gisbergen takes the win on the final lap

Scott McLaughlin’s first of three titles came a year later in 2018, and again after a year-long battle with a Triple Eight driver. This time, it was Shane van Gisbergen, who put an incredible pass on McLaughlin just two corners from home as the #17 Falcon coughed. However, McLaughlin inherited victory and an expanded championship lead after van Gisbergen was hit with a post-race penalty over a pit infringement. McLaughlin let David Reynolds by late in Sunday’s race to finish second and clinch the title, with van Gisbergen missing out on adding to his 2016 title.

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