The V8 Supercars round in Darwin has again proved fruitful for Kiwi V8 driver Shane Kiwi Shane van Gisbergen. It was at Hidden Valley Raceway that ‘the Giz’ enjoyed two podium finishes at the SkyCity Triple Crown meeting and this year he went even better claiming his first V8 Supercar win on Australian soil at the Darwin circuit.
This landmark victory comes almost two months to the day after the 22-year-old claimed his first series win at his home round in Hamilton and with two wins to his name now van Gisbergen is a genuine 2011 title contender.
He claimed his second win in style too, following up from the disappointment of a clash and subsequent scrabble to finish seventh in Saturday’s race with an epic drive through the pack from his sixth row starting position to eventually catch and pass Craig Lowndes for the lead of Sunday’s race with just three laps to go.
In doing so van Gisbergen proved the wisdom of Stone Brothers Racing’s tyre strategy, the team choosing to start its drivers on the harder ‘control’ tyre and save the softer ‘option’ tyre until later on, when – as happened – a Safety Car period might play into their hands.
The result sees the Kiwi, shift up into third in the Driver’s Championship just 261 points from leader Jamie Whincup and 105 from second placed Craig Lowndes. It also cements SBR’s second place in the Team’s Championship behind Triple 8.
Van Gisbergen had these words for the media, “This is awesome! Yesterday was a bit of a shambles but we had a bit of luck with that last Safety Car and that’s what we were hoping for with our strategy. Our race pace on the hard tyre was pretty good but we didn’t really have enough to make a move early on. Add to that there was oil all over turn one after (Jason) Bright’s engine let go so that also made things interesting. In the last stint on the soft tyre the car was great and I was able to look after my tyres really well which the Safety Car helped with and for the final eight lap sprint home I had plenty of grip and was able to really push. I could see Craig was in trouble with his rear tyres and I didn’t have much left when I passed him either but it’s perfect for our championship.”
Next stop for the V8 Supercar Championship is Rnd 7 on the streets of Townsville over the July 09-10 weekend.
To find out more about van Gisbergen and his campaign in this year’s V8 Supercar Championship, check out the next issue of NZV8 magazine for a feature article. Due out soon.
Photo Credit: Fast Company/Vue Images