Explaining the AVESCO reverse grid system
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:
For race one, the cars line up in the grid according to times in qualifying as shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1: A "normal" grid: fastest at the front, slowest at the back
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.
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.
Figure 2: The reverse six system race two grid: the top 6 are reversed.
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.
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.
|Figure 3: Top Nominal Points placegetters from Oran Park.
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
The remaining positions on the grid (the red cars)
for race three are allocated according to the race two
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.
Note that finishing in the top six in race
two does not guarantee a top six position on the grid for race
Figure 4: The race three grid, the top six based on
nominal points, the remaining
allocated by race two finishing position.
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.
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.
Figure 5: Out with the old... Even the pointscores are changing
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
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 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 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
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.
|Figure 6: Nominal Points placegetters from Oran Park under the Rogers system.
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.
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.
Figure 7: The Rogers reverse six
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.