SVG completes 'awesome' return

  • Repco Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 12/02/2021
  • By James Pavey

Shane van Gisbergen was delighted to be back behind the wheel of his Triple Eight Supercar, four months on from his breakthrough Bathurst win.

Van Gisbergen combined with Garth Tander to win the Great Race last October, and travelled home to his native New Zealand shortly afterwards.

He remained in New Zealand until early February, returning to Australia following the suspension of the travel bubble between the two countries.

In his time back home, the 2016 series champion won the iconic New Zealand Grand Prix, kept sharp on dirt bikes, and also made impressive rallying appearances.

However, he felt right at home in his #97 Commodore, and was happy to return to his familiar seat despite hot conditions at pre-season testing on Friday.

Friday's running came after he took to the track earlier in the week in Triple Eight's new Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo.

"It was pretty hot, which sucks, but it's awesome to be back in the car," he said at Queensland Raceway.

"I've been driving here two days this week, so to jump in after the Mercedes… proper V8, big power, sequential shift, it's awesome.

"Just getting used to it, trying a couple of programmes on both cars.

"Myself learning [David] Cauchi, and Jamie [Whincup] learning with Wes [McDougall]. Couple of new engineers for both of us, but it's been pretty good."

The 2021 season will commence at Bathurst, with the Repco Mt Panorama 500 to feature two 250km races.

The event will provide starkly different challenges for drivers versus the Bathurst 1000, none greater than the single-driver format and the expected hotter conditions.

While expected to enter the event as a favourite, van Gisbergen admitted the entire field will be facing a learning curve once they roll out at Bathurst.

However, while not thinking too far ahead to the season-opener, the 31-year-old was delighted to see a large crowd turn out for the test day in Ipswich.

Swathes of fans braved the heat to check out official track action, and van Gisbergen was excited to again deliver racing to fans come February 26-28 at the mountain.

"It'll be a completely different track [at Bathurst], not as much running, hot conditions compared to October," he explained.

"We'll see what we can learn, our cars aren't much different to then.

"A couple of things today we've found, some have worked, some haven't.

"Seeing everyone out here, so many fans on the hill for a test day, it's pretty awesome how excited everyone is.

"It's cool just to be out there, looking forward to it."

Van Gisbergen will take to Bathurst for the Repco Mt Panorama 500 later this month.

Tickets for the season-opener are on sale now.

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