On this day: SVG's dream comes true with maiden win
Repco Supercars Championship
By James Pavey, Main Pic by AN1 Images
Shane van Gisbergen continues his ascension up the record charts, but his winning journey had to begin somewhere.
A decade ago, on this day, a 21-year-old van Gisbergen made history when he became the first Kiwi driver to win on the streets of Hamilton.
On April 17, 2011, Stone Brothers Racing’s faith in van Gisbergen was finally justified as the hometown hero finally scored a maiden championship race win.
Those close to van Gisbergen would have predicted his rise to the very top; to this weekend’s Beaurepaires Tasmania SuperSprint, he is sixth on the all-time race winners’ list, and is firm favourite to add to his 2016 drivers’ title.
WATCH: SVG’S FIRST WIN
Back in 2011, though, van Gisbergen remained a driver who had the potential, but had yet to achieve the win he so sorely craved.
He had threatened in 2010; van Gisbergen scored eight podiums, and was denied a win at Sydney Olympic Park on the final lap after he ran out of fuel.
His 2011 campaign started well with two top 10 finishes in Abu Dhabi, but a lowly Adelaide weekend and miserable run to 16th on the Saturday in Hamilton left him with it all to do.
In the Saturday race, he was caught out by the slippery surface in pit lane, overshot his mark in the pit bay, lost several places and bowled over a cameraman in the lane.
On Sunday, he returned a renewed force; he qualified fourth for the 59-lap race, which saw a number of key names fall by the wayside.
Van Gisbergen takes the chequered flag Pic: AN1 Images
Future teammate Jamie Whincup suffered another poor run for the second day running following a collision with Michael Caruso, which also wiped out Mark Winterbottom and Jason Bargwanna.
Local hero Greg Murphy was also out early with a gearbox failure, while Fabian Coulthard was an innocent victim in a later accident with Tim Slade.
Light rain towards the end of the race ensured van Gisbergen wouldn’t have it all his own way, and the presence of Lee Holdsworth’s Garry Rogers Motorsport Commodore looming in the mirrors didn’t do the young Kiwi any favours.
Lap by lap, Holdsworth ranged closer to the rear of the #9 SP Tools-backed Falcon, but van Gisbergen didn’t flinch.
Lap by lap, fans by the thousand rose to their feet and applauded van Gisbergen’s every move.
Van Gisbergen, Holdsworth and Tander on the podium Pic: AN1 Images
When he commenced the final lap, with Holdsworth still in arrears, van Gisbergen was greeted by an almighty ovation at the Turn 3 right-hander grandstand.
Holdsworth pressured him all the way, but he failed to make an impression on van Gisbergen, who showed the guile of a multiple race-winner to seal career win No. 1.
Holden Racing Team veteran and future Bathurst-winning co-driver Garth Tander raced from 19th to third.
However, all eyes were on Aucklander van Gisbergen, who was in his fourth season with SBR, finally ascended to the top of the tree.
"When I was growing up I used to watch Murph and clap every time he came round,” van Gisbergen said.
"I could see the crowd cheering after I passed Rick [Kelly] and that got to me, I started to make mistakes, so there were a few, ‘C'mon Shane, let's get it together’.
"When you have the whole nation on you, it's hard not to get excited.
"It's a dream come true. This is what I always wanted to do.”
Fears of throwing away another win were amplified as the heavens opened late on, with Holdsworth sizing up a race-winning edge.
That never came, but that didn’t quell van Gisbergen’s concerns as he played the pioneer role at the front.
Van Gisbergen celebrates his 2016 title
"It's hard to be the leader; you don't know where to brake," he said.
"I made a mistake at Turn 5; I hit the kerb and I was looking at the wall [sliding sideways] but I saved it.”
The win delighted Ross and Jimmy Stone, with the victory coming on home soil for all parties.
"We got roughed up a bit [on Saturday] and it just goes to show you everybody on the team did a great job to come back today,” Stone said.
"Shane did the work today. We gave him the car and he did the rest.”
Van Gisbergen has won five in a row in 2021
Van Gisbergen added another win in Darwin en route to fourth overall for the year, but would have to wait until his maiden Tekno start on the streets of Adelaide to win again.
A move to Triple Eight in 2016 resulted in a drivers’ title at the first time of asking, and the rest is history.
Now, it seems van Gisbergen is the one chasing history, with a record-equalling sixth straight win up for grabs on Saturday at Symmons Plains.
Van Gisbergen leads the 2021 Repco Supercars Championship by 150 points heading to this weekend’s Beaurepaires Tasmania SuperSprint.
Cars will roll out for Practice 1 at 9:20am AEST on Saturday.
The event will be broadcast live on Foxtel and will be streamed on Kayo with highlights on 7 and 7 Plus.