For all of Shane van Gisbergen’s early-season dominance, it is perhaps peculiar to note that the 2016 champion has now gone five races without a win.
On Sunday afternoon, the Red Bull Ampol Racing driver was pipped to the Race 11 win by Cameron Waters in the OTR SuperSprint finale at The Bend Motorsport Park.
To Sunday afternoon at Tailem Bend, van Gisbergen has gone five races without victory, his longest winless spell since he went 19 races without a win between the 2019 Newcastle finale and second Townsville event last season.
Van Gisbergen equalled Allan Moffat and Mark Skaife in Tasmania with a sixth-straight win to open the season, but has failed to reach the chequered flag first since teammate Jamie Whincup pipped him in Race 7.
WATCH: RACE 11 RECAP
Regardless, the Kiwi’s consistency, coupled with a trio of lacklustre results for Whincup, saw van Gisbergen leave Tailem Bend with a greater points lead than what he arrived with.
With Race 11 winner Cameron Waters failing to score in Sunday’s first race, which was won by Anton De Pasquale, along with a DNF for Chaz Mostert, van Gisbergen reaped the biggest points haul of the weekend.
Not that the championship leader was overly fussed, instead lamenting his lack of relative pace to his rivals across the weekend.
“It doesn’t feel like a round win, we really struggled for pace all weekend,” he said.
“Just consistent, stayed out of trouble.
“The last race was quite good, I only had one shot to pass him, and I couldn’t quite make it work at Turn 1.
“Then he put the car in the right spots and I couldn’t get there.”
Van Gisbergen won at The Bend in the series’ first visit to the venue in 2018.
He added another win last season, but the circuit has remained a Ford stronghold, with the Blue Oval now having won 10 of the 13 races held at The Bend.
The 32-year-old enjoyed strong race pace, notably rising from 13th to the podium in the chaos-riddled Race 10.
WATCH: SVG CHASES WATERS
“This style of track, we haven’t been quite good at the last couple of years,” he said.
“We still need to improve, mainly in qualifying.”
Armed with a larger series lead, van Gisbergen now has another three weeks before the next event at Winton, a circuit he has only claimed one victory at.
The New Zealander said he will use the time off to continue his recovery from collarbone surgery following his mountain biking accident in early March.
“I’m better, I’m just lacking fitness,” he said.
“I haven’t been able to train for eight weeks.
“It was good to have these three weeks off; I skipped the GT test down here and just tried to get better.
“I’m not 100 per cent, but I’m driving… out of the car, I don’t notice it at all.”
The Repco Supercars Championship field will return to Victoria for the Winton SuperSprint across May 29-30. Tickets are available here.
The event will be broadcast live on Foxtel and will be streamed on Kayo with highlights on 7 and 7 Plus.