Why qualifying is crucial at the VAILO Adelaide 500

21 Nov
If recent history is anything to go by, starting towards the front in Adelaide is critical for a driver's victory hopes
3 mins by James Pavey
  • 33 of 48 Adelaide races have been won from the first two rows

  • Since 2013, 19 of 21 races have been won from the first two rows

  • 35 of 41 Super2 races in Adelaide have been won from first two rows

If history is anything to go by, starting towards the front in Adelaide is critical for a driver’s victory hopes.

The 2023 Repco Supercars Championship will conclude at this weekend’s VAILO Adelaide 500, with the iconic South Australia event rounding out a season for the second time.

From its 1999 debut as season opener to his current guise as the season finale, the Adelaide 500 has proven one of the biggest tests for drivers, teams and cars.

Since its inception, the event has largely ran two 250km races, save for 125km Saturday sprints between 2014 and 2016.

As is key anywhere, starting towards the front eases a driver’s path to victory — but despite drivers getting two hours to work their way to the front in Adelaide, it’s proven just as important at the parklands circuit.

Of 48 races held in Adelaide, 33 have been won from the first two rows — 19 from pole, five from second, seven from third and two from fourth. Since 2013, 19 of the 21 races have been won from the first two rows. Last year, Broc Feeney won the Sunday race after starting from third.

It’s a bigger ratio in the Dunlop Series, with 35 of 41 races being won from either first or second on the grid.

Adelaide’s attrition rate is as high as they come, with 47 of the 48 races since 1999 featuring at least one DNF. The only Adelaide race to feature all finishers was the Sunday race in 2019.


The stark outliers are Mark Skaife winning from 38th and last in 2000, with Nick Percat emerging victorious from 15th after a controversial rain-affected affair in 2016.

Matt Stone Racing rookie Cameron Hill knows that, if drivers can start towards the front, there’s no reason why they can’t stay there, given they will be away from feisty mid-pack trouble.

“For me, I’ve really enjoyed the last few events particularly the racing side of it as I believe we have a good package as we’re always able to move our way forward,” Hill said.

"The thing for me is if we qualify strongly in Adelaide, I don’t see any reason why we can’t race out of the front and I don’t think it’s out of the question.

“I’m really focused on the process of the weekend by rolling out strong on Thursday and getting the car in the window for qualifying. There’s also the luxury of an extra practice session as well, so we can do some prep for the race. 

"There will be plenty of track time, which is always good. I was probably a bit lean on track time at Gold Coast and started on the back foot, but with more sessions in Adelaide it will give us more time to find the rhythm.”

Track action at the VAILO Adelaide 500 will commence on Thursday. Tickets are on sale now.

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