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Van Gisbergen, McLaughlin, Lowndes: Record seasons compared

28 Dec 2022
Three record seasons — which was best?
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Shane van Gisbergen set some remarkable benchmarks this year. But how does his 2022 compare to the dominance demonstrated by Craig Lowndes and Scott McLaughlin?

By claiming the record for the most victories in a single season, van Gisbergen ensured his name will stand the test of time in Supercars’ record books.

The previous benchmark of 18 wins, set by McLaughlin in 2018, was equalled with van Gisbergen’s stunning Pukekohe win.

By then, his lead was 500 points — and with five races left, the prospect of a record-breaking championship became a talking point.

Wins No. 19, 20 and 21 followed in quick succession, including a second Bathurst victory. The 20th win helped van Gisbergen seal the crown at Surfers Paradise.

How does van Gisbergen's 21-win season compare to what Lowndes and McLaughlin achieved in their record-breaking seasons?

The calendar

Van Gisbergen won at 11 of 13 rounds in 2022, including Bathurst

Season calendars have fluctuated over time, as have formats.

Not including the non-championship Bathurst 1000, the 1996 season had 30 races over 10 rounds.

There were 31 full-time races over 15 rounds in 2019, with Adelaide — the 12th round of 2022 — hosting the 33rd and 34th races of the season.

Lowndes’ 16 wins came in 29 starts at a 55.2% strike rate. He missed a race due to a crash at Phillip Island.

McLaughlin’s 18 wins came in 29 starts at a 62.1% strike rate. He missed starts at Albert Park and Gold Coast due to pre-race crashes.

Van Gisbergen’s 21 wins came in 34 starts at a 61.8% strike rate — just 0.3% behind McLaughlin.

It goes both ways, but the three are matched by their performance and consistency.

Winning from the front

McLaughlin was a machine over one lap and in races

From 2009 onwards, drivers have had to qualify for each individual race.

Prior to 2009, there was only one qualifying session a weekend, which would set the grid for Race 1.

Lowndes took three of 10 poles in 1996 (30%), with McLaughlin scoring a staggering 15 of 31 poles in 2019 (48.4%).

On strike rate, van Gisbergen is still below Lowndes — 7/34 at 21.9% — but won from pole on all seven occasions.

Lowndes won from pole 11 times, including from his three actual poles in Tasmania, Sandown and Perth.

McLaughlin won from pole 11 times from 15 attempts.

Remarkably, nine of van Gisbergen’s 21 wins came from beyond the front row.

McLaughlin won from third or lower four times, and Lowndes just once.

Bathurst

Lowndes celebrates in 1996 Pic: AN1 Images

One metric each record-breaking season shares is a Bathurst win.

Lowndes won the 1996 Great Race, McLaughlin in 2019, and van Gisbergen last month.

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Van Gisbergen recorded the 16th instance of a driver winning the Great Race and title in the same year.

Lowndes (with Greg Murphy) started second and led 129 of 161 laps; McLaughlin (with Alex Premat) started from pole and led 58 laps.

Van Gisbergen and Tander started eighth, but led 110 laps, Tander having taken the lead before the halfway mark.

The cars

In all three seasons, the drivers’ respective cars were the class of the field.

Lowndes and McLaughlin both raced new cars, and also raced two chassis after they suffered accidents.

Van Gisbergen, meanwhile, raced the same chassis he had competed in since 2020.

Lowndes had a major accident at Phillip Island and was moved into HRT chassis 033.

He then won three straight rounds at Lakeside, Barbagallo and Mallala, before winning Sandown and Bathurst to complete the triple crown.

McLaughlin won all 18 races in DJRTP06 — the team’s first Mustang. It was then written off after McLaughlin’s violent crash on the Gold Coast.

The Kiwi was moved into a new car, and didn’t win again in 2019.

Critically, McLaughlin remained class of the field despite the Mustang undergoing mid-season aero package revisions.

Van Gisbergen’s 888A-054 — dubbed ‘Chastitii — debuted in 2020. It had three different engineers, each getting more out of it than the last.

The competition

After Sydney, the prospect of a van Gisbergen/Chaz Mostert was one fans got excited for — but Mostert’s charge wilted after a tough Tasmania, and shocking Perth.

Anton De Pasquale and Cam Waters both loomed as van Gisbergen’s closest challengers — but both drivers had a slump.

Waters had two podiums in the first 12 races of the season. In that time, van Gisbergen won eight races.

De Pasquale stayed within striking distance in the first half of the year, but fell away after Townsville with two podiums in 14 starts. Many believed van Gisbergen’s closest prospective challenger wasn’t on the grid at all — McLaughlin himself.

However, Waters, Mostert and De Pasquale seemed a closer match as a title rival to van Gisbergen than Lowndes or McLaughlin faced in their record years.

McLaughlin’s teammate Fabian Coulthard was second in the points up until the 10th round of the year at The Bend. Van Gisbergen and Jamie Whincup didn’t come into their own until the second half of the season.

John Bowe, Russell Ingall and Larry Perkins all won a round each in 1996, with Peter Brock winning the finale at Oran Park.

The Bathurst sprint round in April — swept by Bowe — was the only round Lowndes had failed to win a race before Oran Park — but by then, the title was his to lose.

The verdict

Lowndes won as a 21-year-old rookie Pic: AN1 Images

All three drivers demonstrated they were poles apart in their respective seasons. Lowndes was a 21-year-old rookie, McLaughlin a 26-year-old reigning champion, and van Gisbergen a 33-year-old seasoned pro.

Van Gisbergen’s season was longer and he won more races from lower on the grid. McLaughlin dominated his opposition in qualifying, while Lowndes’ feats as a rookie were outstanding.

Considering van Gisbergen’s rivals had a whole year in 2021 to see what he could achieve, it was quite something to see van Gisbergen raise the bar to a new level in 2022.

Which record-breaking season was better? Have your say in our poll below.

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