Reigning champion Shane van Gisbergen is just one win away from sealing the most dominant season in Supercars history, as he chases glory in the Bathurst 1000.
Victory on Sunday will be the crowning jewel for van Gisbergen, who has been ruthless in 2022.
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After 10 rounds and 29 races this year, van Gisbergen has already tied Scott McLaughlin’s record of 18 race wins in a season and he looks set to eclipse the margin with four rounds remaining, including Bathurst.
To convey just how dominant van Gisbergen has been, the next highest number of wins by a single driver this year is three – by Chaz Mostert, Will Davison and Cam Waters.
The New Zealander has won nine of the 11 races since Townsville’s NTI 500 in July and also sealed a WRC2 podium place on debut in the recent World Rally Championship event in his home country.
Cold, wet and windy conditions met the drivers at Wednesday’s drivers’ parade in Bathurst and the outlook is dire with plenty more rain forecast for the coming days.
The reigning Supercars champion joked he has to remember it is right-hand drive for this week’s event, but is fully focused for the great race.
“I don’t overthink it or complicate it,” van Gisbergen said on Wednesday.
“My prep’s been good and I’m ready to go. Whoever turns up will turn up.”
Red Bull Ampol hold a 341-point lead in the constructors’ championship heading into the weekend’s action with van Gisbergen 525 points clear of second-placed Waters in the drivers’ category.
The difference between one and two is staggering, with van Gisbergen nearly two whole points rounds clear of Waters and the chasing pack.
Registering 23 podium places and 14 wins in 2021, SVG has improved to 24 top-three finishes and 18 wins this season with legs in Bathurst, Gold Coast, Adelaide and Newcastle remaining.
His most recent back-to-back wins to farewell Pukekohe Park Raceway in Auckland were perhaps the most special, doing it in front of home fans and family.
But a second career Bathurst title in a year van Gisbergen has dominated would surely be the highlight.
“Our team’s been really good this year and in our weak races we’re still coming fifth and sixth and that’s been the key to our championship – turning bad weekends into reasonable ones,” he said.
“It’s been really fun working with a great bunch of people and hopefully we finish the year strong.”
However, it will not all be easy going for the reigning Supercars champion, even with veteran Garth Tander as his partner, as Sunday’s race boasts a plethora of heavyweights.
Seven-time Bathurst champion Craig Lowndes is one of three wildcard entries this year and he pairs with Declan Fraser for Triple Eight Racing.
Should Lowndes salute alongside 22-year-old Fraser in his 300th Supercars start, the 48-year-old will be just one shy of the great Peter Brock’s record total of nine Bathurst triumphs.
Triple Eight team principal Jamie Whincup is also back in the field in his first season post-retirement, pairing with Red Bull Ampol rookie Broc Feeney in what will be Feeney’s third Bathurst 1000 and Whincup’s 20th.
Seven’s live and free coverage from Bathurst starts at 10.00am AEDT Friday 7 October on Channel 7, 7mate and 7plus, and will include all the unmissable moments from the practice laps, to the all-important race and celebrations on Sunday. Seven’s broadcast of the highly anticipated race day at Mount Panorama starts at 7.30am AEDT Sunday on Channel 7 and 7plus.