The 2021 Supercars season saw epic races at Sydney Motorsport Park under lights on a wet evening, and an epic thriller at Bathurst. while legend of the sport Jamie Whincup departed the circuit after 19 long seasons.
COVID-19 forced an extended break midway through the season, but Triple Eight Race Engineering and Shane van Gisbergen stormed to respective Constructors’ and Drivers’ Championships.
Van Gisbergen flew to six consecutive race wins in the opening 10 rounds, solidifying his grip on the trophy early on.Embed from Getty Images
Again in races 13, 14, 15, 16 and 18, Triple Eight was able to claim further wins, which pushed the 32-year-old further ahead in the drivers’ standings.
It took the New Zealander another 12 races to be confirmed as the V8 Drivers’ Champion at Sydney Motorsport Park, while the departing Whincup finished second in the drivers’ standings in his final Supercars season.
The Inner Sanctum takes a look at the five best races from the 2021 Supercars season.
The Sandown Showdown – Race 3
Shane van Gisbergen started 17th with a broken collarbone and ribs that he battled within the race.
The championship leader looked to be down and out for the count, but a superhuman performance that capped off a sensational race set up the Kiwi’s Drivers’ Championship bid for the 2021 V8 Supercars season.
Van Gisbergen completed his last lap comeback, overtaking Cameron Waters on the pit-straight at Sandown. It proved to be a happy hunting ground for Triple Eight when van Gisbergen was able to secure a further two wins there.Embed from Getty Images
The ability to steer his car around the track for a gruelling 36 laps in tricky conditions glorified the ability of van Gisbergen, and this was just one of many very impressive performances throughout the calendar year.
“Luckily we didn’t know about the ribs, because we wouldn’t have been allowed to race,” he told the Supercars website.
“That weekend… I had some good people help me through.”
Wet and wild evening at Sydney Motorsport Park – Race 25
As the rain battered down in Eastern Creek, one driver shone throughout the treacherous conditions on race day.
Chaz Mostert – who was excluded from qualifying – saw himself starting from the back of the grid when the lights went out on a horrible evening for racing. Despite this though, the 2021 Drivers’ Champion hopeful fought hard from the start.Embed from Getty Images
A great race start which saw the Walkinshaw Andretti United driver gain a handful of places on a wild evening gave him hope.
Mostert continued to battle through the precarious conditions, carefully picking his moments to overtake which helped him work up the grid one lap at a time.
By the end of the race – which was red-flagged due to safety concerns – Mostert had put together a super drive and put his car third, behind Whincup and Anton De Pasquale, a superb effort in dangerous conditions.
“I’m gutted not starting on the front row,” he said.
“The car was fantastic. The visibility wasn’t too bad, I reckon it’s worse in the daytime with the glare. Lots of fun. I don’t know how I got to third, I just put my head down and got on with it.”
Will Brown’s maiden Supercars victory – Race 28
Brown won a thrilling three-way shoot-out for his maiden Supercars victory at the BP Ultimate Sydney SuperSprint finale.
The 23-year-old held off the experienced Whincup and van Gisbergen by the smallest of margins of 0.280s and 0.522s respectively.
Pole-sitter Whincup and van Gisbergen made a good start, but Brown gained crucial positions that enabled him to overcut the race leaders.
Brown and his team perfectly nurtured his tyres and car for the final few laps, which kept the veteran champions behind in the crucial laps.
“I thought if I could bank them up into each other, they’d dogfight against themselves,” he said.
“It’s what ended up happening, and their tyres were cooked. The best part was getting to do burnouts, that was sick.”
Chaz Mostert’s Bathurst drive – Race 31
Mostert’s masterclass at Mount Panorama continued in the final race of the season, as the Australian claimed his second win around the illustrious and iconic circuit.
A tyre issue on lap 49 threatened to derail all the hard work put in from Mostert and the Walkinshaw Andretti United team, but he was able to seal a second victory at Bathurst.Embed from Getty Images
The race win capped off another all-round brilliant performance from the 29-year-old as he broke a Bathurst 1000 lap record in the top 10 shootout on Monday.
“It was a pretty tough race, when we did that [puncture] I knew it was going to be a tough slog, but credit to the guys, this car has been speedy all weekend,” Mostert said.
“We started on pole and we won the race. Every time you start on pole you never think you’re going win it, credit to this car and credit to the team.”
Andre Heimgartner dominates The Bend – Race 9
It was 161 races too long for Heimgartner, who finally scored his first-ever V8 Supercars win in race nine of the 31 race long season.
Heimgartner started the weekend strong, claiming pole in South Australia in risky, wet conditions before keeping it clean throughout the race to score a prolonged maiden Supercars victory at The Bend.
The Kiwi went through adversity during the race as well, but battled through it after being hit with an unsafe release penalty after his pit stop.
But his dominating performance ensured that no external influences would take away the brilliant drive that the 26-year-old crafted.
“It’s just been way, way too long. I think it’s been six years, so I’m just over the moon. I’ve finally got [the monkey] off my back,” Heimgartner said.
It was a wild and fercious season that threw up surprises and saw breakthrough drivers appear across the board.
The excitement and energy of the Supercars returns when they retake the track in Newcastle in the first weekend of March 2022.
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