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Explaining the AVESCO reverse grid system
Shane Rogers

There are four certainties in life, birth, death, taxes, and a pointscore system in motorsport that makes programming your VCR look as easy as pie.

The new AVESCO reverse the top 6 system, which was implemented for the first time at Oran Park, is probably the most unusual system used in Australian Touring Car racing since the death of the random draw in the pre-Shell Series dash in the early to mid nineties. There difference is that this system matters much more, as it affects the pointscore and therefore the championship in a more dramatic way.

The system will also be used at Calder Park, and Sandown before season's end.

The AVESCO reverse six system works as follows:

Figure 1: A "normal" grid: fastest at the front, slowest at the back
For race one, the cars line up in the grid according to times in qualifying as shown in Figure 1.

In previous triple-sprint events, the race two and three grids would be based on the finishing positions of the previous race.

In the new reverse six system, both the race two and race three grids are different.

Figure 2: The reverse six system race two grid: the top 6 are reversed.
The new race two grid (Figure 1) is the same as previous, except for the top six positions. The sixth finisher in race one starts from pole, followed by fifth, fourth, third, second, and the race one winner. After that, the grid remains the same as above.

The race three grid however, is much more complex in comparison.

There are two distinct steps in working out the race three grid order. First, you must work out the "Nominal Pointscore" for each driver.

This is done by allocating points equal to each driver's finishing position for the first two races. That is, the winner gets 1 point, second gets two points, third gets three points and so on. These points have nothing to do with the Shell Championship Series pointscore.

Anybody who does not finish race one or race two does not get a nominal score.

Then from those who have a nominal score (those cars who finish both races), the cars with the lowest six scores sit in positions one through six on the grid for race three. If there is a tie on nominal score, then the qualifying time is used as a tie-breaker.

Driver Race 1 Race 2 Nominal Points Qual Time
Skaife 1st 3rd 4
Tander 3rd 4th 7 1:08.1291
Murphy 5th 2nd 7 1:08.1973
Ingall 6th 1st 7 1:08.2111
Seton 4th 5th 9
Longhurst 9th 6th 15
Kelly 8th 13th 21
Faulkner 11th 11th 22
Figure 3: Top Nominal Points placegetters from Oran Park.
Figure 3 shows the Nominal Point score calculations for Oran Park. Skaife with the lowest nominal score heads the list, followed by Tander, Murphy and Ingall tied. The tie is split by qualifying time, putting Tander second.

Note that Lowndes, who finished 2nd in race one, did not finish in race two, and consequently, does not have a nominal score.

The top 6 on this list (in aqua) form the top six on the grid for race three, as shown in Figure 4.

The remaining positions on the grid (the red cars) for race three are allocated according to the race two finishing order.

In our Oran Park example, the highest finisher outside the Aqua cars was Bargwanna in seventh, so he occupies the first red position (7th). The grid then goes Perkins, Jones, Baird, Faulkner and so on.

Figure 4: The race three grid, the top six based on nominal points, the remaining
allocated by race two finishing position.
Note that finishing in the top six in race two does not guarantee a top six position on the grid for race three.

In addition to the changes to the grid format, the new reverse six system introduces a new championship points system to match.

These are the real points that apply to the championship point score. Under the old system (Figure 5), all races had equal points value. In the new system, there are two sets of points scores, one set for races one and three, and a devalued set for the semi-reverse gridded race two.

Figure 5: Out with the old... Even the pointscores are changing
If you win all three races, which is now harder to do, you still get 120 points like the old system, but from then on it changes.

The real difference in the pointscore systems show up in the bottom half of the top twenty. Three 20th place finishes under the old system would only render you 3 points, while three finishes inside the top twenty now return at least 20 points.

Weaknesses also appear when the amount of cars you are reversing, is not equal to the number of positions with points on offer. Outside the top 6, a finish inside the top twenty in any of the three races is equally hard to achieve and in theory should be awarded the same points value.

Implementing such a system evenly, fairly, and in an uncomplicated matter however, is nigh on impossible.

In attempting to come up with a comparible system, I established the following parameters:
  • The top 6 on the grid will be reversed for race two
  • The points must go down to the top 20, and be as close to the old triple-sprint pointscore as possible
The solution that results, lets call it the Rogers reverse six system is a slight variation of the AVESCO system, and offers an alternative solution which poses some advantages over the existing setup.

The grid positions will be the same for race one and race two as previous, but the race three grid determination will be different.

Despite my attempts, I cannot seem to avoid using a nominal points system. Why avoid? Well, I think the more point systems you add, the more likely you are to confuse. I think the only way to avoid such a problem is to reverse the same amount as your awarding points for. In this case it would be top 20.

My nominal points score will be a traditional "most points wins" score, with 6 allocated for a win, 5 for second, 4 for third, and so on down to 1 for sixth position.

The race three grid would be divided into two groups. Group A contains all drivers that score at least one nominal point (i.e. finish in the top 6 in either of the first two races). The remaining cars (Group B) that score 0 nominal points would be ordered by race two finishing order.

Group A is sorted by Nominal Points, with the tie breaker being the race one finishing position, as opposed to the qualifying time in the AVESCO system.

Driver Race 1 Race 2 Nominal Points Race 1
Skaife 1st (6) 3rd (4) 10
Tander 3rd (4) 4th (3) 7 3rd
Murphy 5th (2) 2nd (5) 7 4th
Ingall 6th (1) 1st (6) 7 6th
Lowndes 2nd (5) DNF 5 2nd
Seton 4th (3) 5th (2) 5 4th
Longhurst 9th 6th (1) 1
Figure 6: Nominal Points placegetters from Oran Park under the Rogers system.
Figure 6 shows the nominal pointscore (Group A) from Oran Park using this system. The only change is that Lowndes slots into 5th position on the race three grid, despite his race two retirement.

Positions 1-7 (in this case) on the grid are determined by the Nominal points, with the rest of the grid being determined by the Race 2 finishing order.

This means that following Longhurst the grid would be Perkins, Jones, Baird, Faulkner and so on, just like the AVESCO system.

The most radical feature of this system, and the place where this system has a weakness is the pointscore, as shown in Figure 7.

Figure 7: The Rogers reverse six
pointscore system
The system is exactly the same as the "old" triple-sprint pointscore system, except for the poitns awarded for the top six finishing positions in races two and three.

The features of this system include:

* The same amount of points are awarded as previous rounds, giving all rounds the same points weighting as previously intended.
* Equal points for equal effort for competitors outside the top 6 between all races.
* A devaluation of the reverse grid race, so that sandbagging in race one, in order to get pole and benefits of an increased points value for race two is nullified.
* Reward for finishing in the top six in either race (guaranteed grid position in Group A), which is compensation for leading cars who may get "nerfed" in race two as a result of the reverse grid.

I can forsee many questions about the disadvanatages of this system, but at this stage, I can only see one problem, that being that the round result will almost always be dependent on the race three result.

Based on this system, the top 5 pointscorers for the round would have been: Skaife 120; Tander 106; Seton 100; Murphy 90; Longhurst 78. Keep in mind here that the race three grid would have been different in terms of Lowndes' starting position, and as a result, he would have scored 92 points providing he maintained his fifth position in race three.

The most common question that I can imagine fielding is, "If you are starting from seventh in race two, what's the incentive to pass?" The incentive is to get a nominal point, which will lift your grid position for the higher weighted race three.

As everybody knows, AVESCO are still expirementing with this reverse grid setup, and while that is happening there is no real way to allocate points fairly. In order to allocate points fairly on a whole championship basis, the rules and formats for all races in terms of reverse grid must be determined before the beginning of the season, so a fair system can be generated.

Given the current circumstances though, the latter system provides a fairer system, maintaining consistency between both races within a round, and rounds in the championship context.