Shane van Gisbergen has opened up on his Championship chances for the first time this season, heading into this weekend’s Gold Coast event with a 139-point lead over teammate Jamie Whincup.
The quick Kiwi topped today’s final practice session and is notoriously strong on the street circuit in Surfers Paradise, earning two wins in the past two years with former team TEKNO Autosports.
This year he races a Red Bull Commodore and looks menacing with Frenchman Alex Premat who notched up a podium finish with Scott McLaughlin back in 2014 at the track.
Van Gisbergen admitted that while there were some nerves about taking out his first title, the 26-year old’s main feeling was excitement.
“I guess you’re always nervous to a certain extent but I’m more pumped, excited,” he said.
“I’ve got a pretty good opportunity here – I haven’t had a shot like this before with a good team and great car and good co-driver as well.
“We’ve had a really good endurance season so more excited than anything to push on and try and get as many points as we can.”
Van Gisbergen was less than two-tenths of a second away from winning Bathurst earlier this month and came home second at Sandown in September with Premat.
This has been his most successful of the endurance races, though, and the Triple Eight cars rolled out strong with just an hour and a half of practice today.
“I think every driver loves coming here,” he said.
“When you have a good car and you can just commit on the limit, especially this year on soft tyres. I think all of us think it is exciting to have so much grip through the chicanes.
“It’s awesome, I love racing here."
Earlier this week he said he was not intimidated by his closest rival Whincup, who has six championships under his belt.