The V8 Supercar Championship has been led by one man for the vast majority of the year. Mark Winterbottom has impressed and surprised in equal measure since his initial win at Perth, which he followed with a healthy run of wins throughout mid-season. As we approach the end of yet another season, with the Sydney 500 in sight, the words on every fan’s lips are Winterbottom and Lowndes, who have dominated this season’s storyline. This has been a true battle between two individuals: we have witnessed 41-year-old Lowndes claw back the points from his younger rival Winterbottom, week on week since mid-season, which has created the final weekend buzz every fan desires.
The age-old subplot between Ford and Holden (mostly good-natured, of course) may be led by Winterbottom’s Falcon FG X, however the Bathurst 1000 finished with a Commodore VF at the front, and so the Peter Brock Trophy will sleep in Holden’s garage till spring next year. That may well be Holden’s only source of joy this season however, as we approach the weekend. On that front, there will be room for predictions later, but it is high time we get our teeth into the real reason for this blog post.
Spares Box Best Crash Award 2015
So without further ado, it’s time for the inaugural Spares Box Best Crash Award 2015 (BCA2015). We will be employing a strict, Olympic diving-style scoring system for these: approach, flight and entry will be used as contributory factors to overall score. I, however, will be the sole judge – resident autocrat of automobiles (which you could say differs slightly from Olympic scoring).
We will be reviewing three unfortunate pieces of driving from this year, and my winner will be remembered as fondly as the championship winner, at least in the Spares Box office.
Crash number one, above, comes from Scott Pye. A dull, rather innocuous crash could be considered sub-par in its approach and in its tame entry into the barrier, however it seems to have captured the imagination of two French blokes in commentary, so for flight Pye receives maximum points for his international appeal. Business-class. 6.5.
Crash number two comes from veteran Craig Lowndes. Then race leader, Lowndes performs a fascinating plummet from 255 km/h to zero in just over five seconds. An impressive feat, however a blown tyre doesn’t ensure much flight time, and with minimal damage on entry, an effort that promises so little under-delivers as it tails off into the barrier at pedestrian speed. Undeniably enthralling at the point Lowndes’ tyre blows, approach gets pass marks but this fails on flight and entry. Economy. 4.
Our third and final crash is the judge’s personal favourite. A stunning show from last year’s Bathurst champion Chaz Mostert (again at Bathurst) combines a total write off with an element of grace. Note that all four tyres barely leave the surface at any one point, yet he achieves maximum exterior damage to the car. For this judge, that might not score maximum points on the flight side of things, but approach and entry were bang-on and ended Mostert’s race without injuring the driver. A pretty well-rounded endeavour that’s easy on the eye. First-class. 10.
So, congratulations to Chaz on being Australia’s first Spares Box Best Crash Award champion. A dream come true I’m sure, Chaz.
Now that the most prestigious prize is out of the way, we can have a look at the weekend, the culmination of another year of the V8.
The Sydney 500 Showdown
Sydney holds the key to whom will emerge with this year’s championship. When Winterbottom and Lowndes hit the tarmac this Saturday, all eyes will be on those two (sorry Mr. Whincup), and only one can come out with a smile on his face.
Despite trailing an intimidating 179 points behind frontrunner Mark Winterbottom, Craig Lowndes can point to experience where the current leader cannot. Three-time champion Lowndes has the edge on recent form as well, having edged this season’s Bathurst over Lowndes. Such was the early to mid-season form of Winterbottom, however, that any change at the top now looks if not insurmountable then pretty unlikely.
Prediction: Winterbottom has one hand on the trophy and can negotiate the track one final time without confronting any major disaster. Form and experience will not guarantee Lowndes another title, and we will see Winterbottom leave his Falcon with his hands in the air. Well done, Mark!