Supercars mid-season report card: Triple Eight Race Engineering

Shane van Gisbergen won three races at Sandown with several broken bones. Picture: Mark Horsburgh

With the Repco Supercars Championship on a coronavirus-induced halt at the season’s midway mark, takes a look at the 2021 performance of Triple Eight Race Engineering to date.

Teams’ championship: 1st

Drivers’ championship: Shane van Gisbergen 1st, Jamie Whincup 2nd

Qualifying head-to-head: Van Gisbergen 12, Whincup 7

Race head-to-head: Van Gisbergen 14, Whincup 5

If Shane van Gisbergen does go on to win this year’s Supercars crown, the 2021 campaign will be remembered for the incredible circumstances in which he did so.

The Kiwi went on an impressive six-race win streak to start the season, much of which was achieved with a broken collarbone and fractured ribs.

After starting the year off with back-to-back wins at Mount Panorama, van Gisbergen returned to South East Queensland where he suffered a fall on his mountain bike.

Broken bones and ligament damage to his shoulder left the 2020 Bathurst 1000 winner battling intense pain at the second round of the series at Sandown.

Despite that, van Gisbergen took victory in all three races, one of which saw him rise 16 places to win in a late-race tussle with Cameron Waters, Chaz Mostert, and team-mate Jamie Whincup.

After claiming pole positions for the subsequent races and winning them both, it seemed little would be able to stop the 2016 champion.

His unbeaten run was eventually brought to an end by Red Bull stable-mate Whincup who got his first win of the season at Symmons Plains.

By and large, van Gisbergen has been the dominant force. Even a comparatively lean streak in Tailem Bend saw him claim two podium finishes.

In all but one race, van Gisbergen has finished inside the top 10. In that instance where he didn’t, he should have claimed victory only to have a wheel nut issue during a pit stop.

In all, van Gisbergen has 11 wins from 19 races so far.

Pending what the remainder of the 2021 season looks like, the Kiwi could threaten his countryman Scott McLaughlin’s single-season record of 18 race wins, set in 2019.

At the same point of the 2019 season, McLaughlin had 13 wins.

In what is Jamie Whincup’s swansong season, the seven-time champion has played second fiddle to his team-mate.

The 38-year-old has largely flown under the radar and finds himself some way back at the mid-season mark, 276 points in arrears.

Nevertheless, podiums have been forthcoming. So far he has eight to add to his one win. But that’s just it; one win. Meanwhile, the likes of Mostert and Waters have two and three apiece.

Whincup holds second in the drivers’ championship, but don’t be surprised if Waters and Mostert get up in the back end of the season.

Team mid-season grade: 9/10

Driver mid-season grades: Van Gisbergen 9.5/10, Whincup 7.5/10

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