Motorsport News

THE SILLY SEASON MOVES THAT DELIVERED A TITLE

THE SILLY SEASON is in full swing this year, and most of it revolves around the future of Chaz Mostert. But isn’t the act of changing teams supposed to increase your odds of winning a title? History shows that it is..

WORDS: TheRaceTorque.com staff IMAGES: Mark Walker’s archive

IS THE grass greener on the other side?

With the silly season moving into overdrive, one of the biggest jigsaw pieces set to fall into place is Chaz Mostert.

The news sites have been exploding with possibilities – could Chaz stay at Tickford, move to Walkinshaw Andretti United, or what about Erebus? Or, will he take advantage of opportunities further afield?

Racing drivers are like every employed individual – they change jobs for a variety of reasons, sometimes financial, often they will seek a better culture, or be dictated by sponsorship.

Always one of the major factors is the chance to move up the pecking order and find Championship success with a different squad.

For a moment, lets pretend that Chaz takes the plunge to WAU – will he be the secret sauce that lifts the squad back into the championship picture, and correspondingly, can the team rise to the occasion?

Let’s not forget that Chaz could very well have been champion in 2015, If not for his bone shattering crash at Bathurst. He was sitting in the prime position to claim the crown that eventually went the way of his teammate Mark Winterbottom.

The Walkinshaw family of teams meanwhile hasn’t visited the top step of the championship podium since Garth Tander in 2007, while their best overall result since then was when Will Davison finished a fighting second place in the 2009 standings.

History paints an interesting picture of the decisive career moves made by championship winning drivers in the V8 era.

The record books show that five-time champion Mark Skaife is the only driver to win in the post-1992 era in multiple teams, while drivers such as Skaife, Craig Lowndes, Marcos Ambrose and essentially Rick Kelly, have all been successful with the squad in which they made their debuts.

The others, meanwhile have interesting tales to tell regarding their progress up the motorsport ladder, as The Race Torque breaks down…

Glenn Seton, 1993 & ‘97

Winning Team –  Glenn Seton Racing

Previous Team – Gibson Motorsport

An interesting move at the end of 1988 saw Phillip Morris, dissatisfied with the level of signage on offer at the Fred Gibson run Nissan Motorsport, move their backing to the start up Glenn Seton Racing squad.

After Glenn went within a race of winning the 1987 title in a final round battle with Jim Richards, success with his own squad didn’t come easy.

Come 1993 and the birth of the V8 era of the sport, GSR were well on top of the early development of the Falcon, claiming the title.

The 1997 crown came in slightly different circumstances, slimmed down to a single car outfit, with the success also the ending the era of team owner-drivers winning the title.

Mark Skaife

1994 – Winning Team – Gibson Motorsport

2000, ’01 & ‘02 – Winning Team – Holden Racing Team

Brought into the sport by Fred Gibson, Skaife claimed his first championship in 1992 aboard the all-conquering Nissan GT-R, before backing the feat up in 1994 aboard the Winfield Commodore.

With cigarette money departing the sport at the conclusion of the 1995 season, Skaife and Gibson battled through 1996 and the early part of ’97, with the team a desiccated husk of its glory years.

Skaife’s career was rescued in mid-1997, picking up the prime gig as Peter Brock’s partner in his (first) last attempt at the Bathurst 1000, before joining the squad full time from 1998.

From hero to zero and back to hero, a no-brainer career move to a team where he eventually ended his full time career in 2008.

John Bowe, 1995

Winning Team – Dick Johnson Racing

Previous Team – Volvo Dealer Team

After driving for the Volvo Dealer Team in 1986, Bowe went on to a part time co-driving role at Nissan Motorsport in ’87, before replacing Gregg Hansford at Dick Johnson Racing in 1988.

Clearly one of the very best seats available in touring car racing at the time, the Johnson-Bowe combination claimed Bathurst titles in 1989 & ’94, before Bowe fought his way to the 1995 series victory.

Future titles evaded the bearded Tasmanian at CAT Racing, Brad Jones Racing and Paul Cruickshank Racing.

Craig Lowndes, 1996, ’98 & ‘99

Winning Team – Holden Racing Team

Plucked from Formula Ford to superstardom at Bathurst in 1994 by the Holden Racing Team, Lowndes won the first three titles he contested.

Subsequent title successes at 00 Motorsport, Ford Performance Racing and Triple 8 were not forthcoming.

Marcos Ambrose, 2003 & ‘04

Winning Team – Stone Brothers Racing

In five seasons at Stone Brothers Racing, Ambrose put the Queensland squad on the map, winning two titles for the rejuvenated Blue Oval.

A ground breaking career in NASCAR followed, although a brief return to DJR Team Penske at the start of 2015 proved to be less than spectacular.

Russell Ingall, 2005

Winning Team – Stone Brothers Racing

Previous Team – Perkins Engineering

At the end of 2002, Stone Brothers Racing was a team on the rise, and the high profile backing of Caltex and Ford was enough to sway Ingall away from his Castrol Perkins home, where he made his full-time debut in 1996.

At the end of 2007, with SBR no longer at the forefront of the competition, Ingall moved to Paul Morris Motorsport with Supercheap Auto backing, before taking that sponsor with him in 2012 to Walkinshaw Racing, before rounding out his career at Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport in 2014, without adding to his championship tally.

Rick Kelly, 2006

Winning Team – Toll HSV Racing

Starting out with the Clayton based Holden Young Lions squad in 2002, Kelly stayed within the family to continue his career at Kmart Racing in 2003, which morphed into Toll HSV Racing for the 2006 season.

For 2009, Kelly moved to his own family run Kelly Racing, where he continues to this day.

Garth Tander, 2007

Winning Team – Toll HSV Racing

Previous Team – Garry Rogers Motorsport

After debuting with Garry Rogers Motorsport, Tander made the move to the Walkinshaw family for the start of the 2005.

A sideways move over in the workshop into the Holden Racing Team followed his championship campaign of 2007, where he raced until re-joining GRM for 2017 & ’18, without additions to his series crowns.

Jamie Whincup, 2008, ’09, ’11, ’12, ’13, ’14, ‘17

Winning Team – Triple 8

Previous Team – Tasman Motorsport

A serious zero-brainer: although a podium contender at Tasman Motorsport in 2005, the opportunity to join Craig Lowndes at Triple 8 Race Engineering in 2006 was too good to resist.

Has not looked back.

James Courtney, 2010

Winning Team – Dick Johnson Racing

Previous Team – Stone Brothers Racing

Replacing Marcos Ambrose at Stone Brothers Racing for the start of the 2006 season, the move in 2009 to replace Will Davison at Dick Johnson Racing proved to be a smart one, with the team on the rise, all while using customer Triple 8 machinery.

Winning the title at DJR, despite the team ripping itself apart, Courtney moved to the Holden Racing Team for the start of 2011, where he resides to this day without further titles.

Mark Winterbottom, 2015

Winning Team – Ford Performance Racing

Previous Team – Larkham Motorsport

After two formative years at Larkham Motorsport, the folding of the squad in 2006 saw Winterbottom’s contract bought out by the factory backed Ford Performance Racing outfit, a clear step up the Supercars pecking order.

Winterbottom stayed with the Blue Oval team through to the commencement of the current season.

Shane Van Gisbergen, 2016

Winning Team – Triple 8

Previous Team – Tekno Autosports

From his debut within Stone Brothers Racing, Van Gisbergen didn’t follow the team’s transition into Erebus Motorsport for the start of the 2013 season, instead making the somewhat controversial move at the time to join Tekno Autosport from a short-lived retirement.

Series results of fifth, second and fourth for the customer team preceded a step up to Triple 8, where he duly claimed the crown in 2016. 

Scott McLaughlin, 2018

Winning Team – DJR Team Penske

Previous Team – Garry Rogers Motorsport

After making a name for himself at Garry Rogers Motorsport, and with Volvo leaving the sport at the conclusion of the 2016 season, the move across to DJR Team Penske was simple, with the following two seasons resulting in a second and first on the end of year scoreboard.