A winning performance at the Australian Grand Prix has given new Red Bull recruit Shane van Gisbergen a strong platform to potentially claim his first ever V8 Supercars victory at Symmons Plains.
Not that the talented Kiwi is putting extra pressure on himself ahead of the April 1-3 Tyrepower Tasmania SuperSprint by making bold declarations about a breakthrough win.
“I never say anything like that,” he told v8supercars.com. “But it is there, I have never won (in Tasmania). So it can be a lot better than what I have been.
“But I think I have all the tools this year, it’s just got to come together.”
Van Gisbergen has moved to Red Bull Racing Australia as Jamie Whincup’s teammate after three years at the single car Tekno Autosports team driving a Commodore built by RBRA’s parent Triple Eight Race Engineering. He replaced Craig Lowndes who moved to T8’s satellite Team Vortex entry.
Van Gisbergen won three races from four starts in the Coates Hire V8 Supercars Challenge at Albert Park in his RBRA Holden Commodore VF and used the race meeting as a vital step forward in the understanding of his new race car and relationship with new engineer Grant McPherson.
The strong Melbourne form came after a topsy-turvy debut hit-out for RBRA at the Clipsal 500 where he had strong pace on Saturday, spun three times on Sunday in the rain as he battled with the flu and emerged third in the championship.
“It was a pretty hard weekend,” van Gisbergen admitted. “Just for me I struggled with the car a lot to get it to my liking.
“It is very different to what I had last year so only having one test day made it so hard to settle in. I still thought I was comfortable on the test day, but I got to the bumps on the street circuit and I just struggled to get to a liking in the car.
“But we got going alright to be third and not completely all there is pretty promising.”
Van Gisbergen, who ran fourth, eighth and third in the three races in Tasmania last year is straight forward about what’s required from the car to post a strong result at the short Symmons Plains bullring.
“It’s got to be fast down the straights and good at the hairpin. That is where the time is. Big braking, which is something we are trying … get better.
“I always go okay there. I always seem to go in amongst it, so I think we will go fine.”
Van Gisbergen praised the change to 2016 SuperSprint Saturday formats that debut in Tassie; from two 60km sprints to one 120km race and the increased use of soft tyres.
“I think is is good, I think everyone made their thoughts known about the Saturday races last year,” he said. “They have done everything right, they have changed the format and given us more tyres which is what everyone was screaming about.
“So I think the Saturday races are going to be more exciting this year.”
At the end of 2015 van Gisbergen made it clear one thing that excited him about the move to RBRA was it would give him the opportunity to race a completely up-to-date specification T8 Commodore. While surprised by what he found he wasn’t prepared to be too specific about it.
“There’s nothing I want to go into detail about, but there are lots of detail things. It all adds up.
“All the parts are available to the customers but some teams don’t buy them. The Tekno car was still really competitive. We won the last race (in 2015) comfortably, but just the way Triple Eight goes about it with the set-up is quite different.”
Van Gisbergen said he had resisted the temptation to try and set-up his new car like his old 2015 mount.
“I have stuck with what we know here and three cars running the same stuff slightly different is going to be more beneficial in the future.
“So to get through Clipsal like we did and then this weekend (at the grand prix) to have a whole weekend of free testing – and push as hard as we can and race – and learn the car will really help for the future rounds.”
The AGP also helped van Gisbergen, who made his name in V8 Supercars at now defunct Stone Brothers Racing, continue his adjustment back into a big team.
“It does remind me of Stone Brothers Racing,” he said. “The first few times I got in the car and didn’t like it, I would ask for something and it would be there straight away. They had the ability and resources to manufacture things whereas Tekno have out-sourced it. I have gone from six staff to 50, I think it is.
“It is a big change. Tekno was a really good team and they did an amazing job for what they had. But stepping up to Red Bull is a big change, getting used to having teammates again and working with other people again. It’s been really good.”
Van Gisbergen said he had been working well with Whincup, although he had moved away from the six-time champion’s set-up.
“I didn’t really like going his way so we have gone another way to start with. I might get used to it or go back, but it's been really good so far – and the same with Craig as well.
“I think we have all been working well together as an engineering group and all three engineers are pretty smart guys. I have learned that pretty quick. It’s pretty exciting.”