All-out attack SVG not thinking about title 'at all'

  • Repco Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 19/07/2021
  • By James Pavey

Runaway series leader Shane van Gisbergen was adamant he isn’t thinking about the championship after a trio of bold performances in Townsville.

Van Gisbergen extended his series lead over Red Bull Ampol Racing teammate Jamie Whincup to a season-high 276 points at the WD-40 Townsville SuperSprint.

The 32-year-old got his elbows out in all three races, and was penalised during Saturday’s Race 17 following contact with Brodie Kostecki.

He arrived on Sunday with fire in the belly, and returned to defeat Whincup in an absorbing Race 18 battle to clinch an 11th win of the season.

Van Gisbergen saved his most daring performance of the weekend until last, with the 2016 champion pushing Cameron Waters all the way in a thrilling Race 19 battle.

So high was the confidence of Waters after the race, that the Ford driver said he believes he can still beat van Gisbergen to the 2021 crown.

Asked after the race if he had the title fight on his mind, van Gisbergen was adamant he was going into every race to win, rather than protect his points lead.

“Does it look like I’m thinking about the championship?” he laughed.

“I’m trying to win every race.

“There’s a long way to go, and the lead’s nowhere near 300 points I don’t think, and Bathurst is worth that.

“I’m not thinking about it at all, I’m just trying to win every race.”

Never one to shy away from a battle, van Gisbergen has taken several risks en route to building a sizeable points lead.

Notably, he put everything on the line to win the Sandown opener from 17th, avoided the Race 10 first-lap chaos at The Bend after starting 13th, made a bold pass on Anton De Pasquale in the Darwin opener, and defeated Whincup twice on track in the first Townsville event.

It was poor timing with the mid-race Safety Car deployment in Sunday’s finale, however, which brought him undone after passing Waters for the lead on lap 5.

The complexion of the race changed when the Safety Car was deployed following a lap 18 accident for Macauley Jones.

At the time, van Gisbergen led Waters by 1.6s, and immediately dived into the lane for complete his compulsory stop.

Waters, Todd Hazelwood and Nick Percat stayed out, and managed to beat the Safety Car itself to the timing line.

The Tickford Racing driver was able to complete another lap at full speed before taking his stop and grabbed the lead back.

Will Davison split Waters and van Gisbergen due to his shorter stop on lap 13.

“The Safety Car was a bit gutting,” van Gisbergen said.

“I came around [Turn] 11 and saw the guy with the board start to come out.

“I ducked in, which is normally the right thing to do.

“And as I come out onto the front straight, he’s sitting there with the yellow lights on in the middle of Turn 1, which is incorrect.

“That was a little bit of a shame, but we wouldn’t have had the battle if that didn’t happen.”

It set up a grandstand finish between Waters and van Gisbergen, who after clearing Davison, tried to no avail to displace the #6 Monster Energy Mustang.

Waters clung to the lead by his fingertips, and denied van Gisbergen win No. 12 of 2021 by just 0.8s.

Both drivers enjoyed the battle, with van Gisbergen admitting finishing second wasn’t too bitter a pill to swallow in the wake of such an exciting stoush.

“It was just an awesome race,” he said.

“I gave him the thumbs-up down the straight, and I saw on TV he gave it back. It was cool fun.

“Coming second is never that good, but when you do it after a battle like that, it’s pretty cool.”

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