Van Gisbergen praises “special” car
- By Kassie Gadeke
- Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
Shane van Gisbergen says the Triple Eight cars are in a “special” place after another dominant showing of speed across the weekend at New Zealand.
Between van Gisbergen and teammate Whincup, the Red Bull cars took three of the four wins, with defending Supercars champ Mark Winterbottom stealing one victory after a tremendous start in the third race.
He led after the jump, with Whincup all over the back of his teammate, but ultimately tapping the #97 off the road and suffering a drive-through penalty, costing them second and third on the podium.
Despite rejoining eighth, van Gisbergen was able to power back up to third and take a trophy, meaning Whincup only hurt himself with the mishap.
Van Gisbergen was humble post-race about his position and praised his team.
He has taken two of the four biggest honours in a Supercars season so far this year, winning the Pirtek Enduro Cup and Jason Richards Memorial Trophy.
“Our car’s in a pretty special place at the moment and I’m pretty lucky to be driving one, so never forget that,” he said.
“I’ve got a great team behind me and it’s allowed me to be up there.”
He enjoyed passing cars – and so did his home crowd.
“It was pretty fun; it shows how good our cars were in that race.
“I don’t even look in the mirror, I was just pushing as hard as I could, and when I decided to consolidate and cruise to the end Grant [McPherson] said the gap was nine and a half seconds or something, so I drove around the rest of the race.”
He expanded on the incident with Whincup in the post-race press conference, and despite having contact for the first time this year tempers seemed to stay in check in the garage, with Whincup apologising at the podium and boss Roland Dane mellow on the TV coverage.
“I got the call on the radio, Jamie was faster at that stage and don’t hold him up.
“If he had a clear move and was going to get in there I would leave the door open. I was just taking my normal line at the hairpin – which is quite a wide one, it does leave me exposed – but he had a look the lap before and I didn’t think he was close enough that lap, so I just took the normal line and got spun out.
“He came out and straight away, admitted the mistake and apologised and carried on.
“We fought pretty hard at the start of that (last) one, no real passing moves but it was all out attack from both of us, so it was cool.”
Winterbottom was out of the running to defend his number one after a Bathurst bogey, and said Van Gisbergen should be positive as he looks to take his maiden title next month at the Homebush finale. Frosty won his first last year there with closest challenger Craig Lowndes falling out of contention on the Saturday.
“The way their cars are going, they can spin out and still come back through, so I’m sure he’s pretty confident,” Winterbottom said.