Shane van Gisbergen enthused the new surface at Winton Motor Raceway makes his Supercar feel like a ‘real race car’ ahead of today’s 120km race.
The Kiwi superstar – who won at Monza recently in a McLaren GT car and took out the Bathurst 12-Hour earlier this year – didn’t quite hit the lap record in second practice. But he believes there could be record times again today, as long as the track is in good condition.
“It’s really cool to drive around here on this nice surface, it’s how the cars should be all the time, you can drive them hard, they move,” van Gisbergen said.
“Normally you’re just cruising around on eggshells and they feel like a proper race car now, it’s a really cool feeling.”
Van Gisbergen’s 1min19.3311 was just 0.08sec off the new lap record, set earlier in the day by Brad Jones Racing’s Tim Slade.
Slade himself said he wasn’t on new soft tyres when setting the lap, and van Gisbergen believed there was plenty of room for improvement on his run.
Champion Mark Winterbottom predicted laps in the 18sec bracket heading into the event, given teams were recorded in the low 19s during testing over a fortnight ago in similar conditions.
“I’m not sure, it was a pretty average lap from where I was sitting and I guess no one else did any better because there was just so much stuff on the track,” he said.
“So I’m not sure, we’ll see if we can put it all together tomorrow.”
A number of drivers mentioned the dirt on the track and the possibility it could affect the racing, as drivers cut turn eight and dragged sand onto the circuit.
“It’s pretty bad I think all the test days with continuous running were pretty bad, you could see people going off and dragging it back on.
“Unfortunately it makes it one line, which makes it harder to pass. So hopefully it stays good and we can have some good racing.”
If it wasn’t cool enough to set a blistering time in a Supercar, van Gisbergen added some style to the cockpit, rocking a pair of sunglasses as the sun set.
“I felt like Dick Johnson, just not as fast! I didn’t have time to put a visor on and how low the sun was, I went old school,” he said.
Van Gisbergen was pleased to have improved his car across the day, and with some luck, will see further development overnight help him crack his first win at the Victorian circuit.
“The track is so different from last year, I wasn't initially happy with the car to start with, so it has been keeping the guys busy all day. We made heaps of changes and in the end, the car really improved.
“I think we have made huge headway from the start of the day, but the car is still not quite there. We are super close, but we will do our homework tonight and hopefully have it perfect for tomorrow and Sunday."
Meanwhile new record holder Tim Slade would have savoured his achievement over night, expecting it to be obliterated today on track.
“I did [hold a lap record] overnight in 2009 at Queensland Raceway – it was broken the next day,” Slade said.
Given Slade’s record time was not even set on green tyres, a time in the ‘18sec’ bracket could flash up on the timing monitors today.
“I would have liked to get a run on greens but we didn’t,” Slade said.
“It would have been good to get a chance to do that tonight, because we won’t get an opportunity before qualifying.”