It’s not just the car!

  • 10/01/2016
  • By Bruce Newton
  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship

While Shane van Gisbergen looks forward to the competitive boost a ‘works’ Triple Eight Holden Commodore VF should deliver him at Red Bull Racing Australia for 2016, team owner Roland Dane is certain his new signing will find speed coming from a far broader base than just his new car.

Van Gisbergen's official arrival at the team was announced last week, as the 26-year old moves on from TEKNO Autosports, which is a customer team of Triple Eight.

“If he goes better this year where it comes from will probably be a combination of different things,” Dane told v8supercars.com.au.

Van Gisbergen’s Triple Eight-sourced Tekno Commodores have been built around a 2013-14 specification with a few key upgrades where the small privateer team’s budget has allowed.

That hasn’t stopped van Gisbergen from finishing fifth, second and fourth in the drivers’ championship over the last three years and amassing nine wins for the team.

But he has missed out on some performance items over the last three years, such as the latest specification front uprights.

It was something that was clearly on his mind when asked about his 2016 expectations recently.

“It’s going to be interesting to see whether the cars are different,” he said. “There are a few different parts that I know of, but what differences they make and how much better it is going to be I am not sure.

“Obviously my (Tekno) car is good, but it’s still the same as having one from 2013. There have been lots of updates since then so it will be interesting to see.”

But Dane insisted the performance base van Gisbergen would find himself drawing from was “much broader” than the car alone.

He pointed out the New Zealander moved from a single car team to a three car team where he will face up to Jamie Whincup, a six-time champion, and Craig Lowndes, a three-time champion and legend of the category, who makes way for SvG at Red Bull by moving into the new TeamVortex spin-off.

“They will keep each other honest and that’s the way it should be,” said Dane.

“Shane will keep those two on their toes and they will keep him on his toes.

“There won’t be anywhere for Shane to hide and it’s the same for Jamie and Craig. And that’s the way it should be.”

But Dane also pointed to T8’s record of seven teams’ championships in a row as an indicator of the elite level it operates at, saying that would benefit van Gisbergen as well.

“At the end of the day there is a reason why teams that have been consistently at the front are consistently at the front. Sooner or later budget comes into play,” he said.

“Tekno have done a brilliant job with what they have got. But if you are going to be consistently up there all year as we have been over many years - more consistent than anyone else - then there’s going to be an awful lot of paraphernalia that goes with it.

“It’s the way you are looked after, the way you are handled, the way the people are; people doing this and doing that and what the lifing is on parts on the car and all sorts of thing like that that come into it.

“So Shane will be a part of that and experience that at a level that he probably hasn’t experienced before.”

Dane said T8’s superiority showed out more obviously at technical tracks, while van Gisbergen’s bravery had allowed him to close the gap at other places.

“Somewhere like Sydney Olympic Park the drivers’ approach to it and in terms of the risks he is prepared to take has much more influence on the ultimate lap speed than for Philip Island.

“At Phillip Island Shane wasn’t in the same ballpark as our cars, but he did the best with what he had.

“He will step up and he will see there will be benefit from running in our environment and not just with our equipment.”

Dane played down the significance for 2016 of van Gisbergen’s victory over Whincup in the final race of the season at the Coates Hire Sydney 500, where Whincup appeared to have the edge until a brief run-off gifted the advantage to his rival.

“Jamie kept a little bit in reserve because there was a bigger picture with the teams’ championship so he knew full well the pressure was really on us not to make a mistake, whether it was in qualifying, the shoot out or that race,” Dane said.

“He probably took the safe option … and chose to run up the escape road and live another day. Shane had nothing to lose and he signed out of Tekno with a win. But Jamie had a responsibility to the team to deliver the teams’ championship.”

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