Brodie Kostecki and Shane van Gisbergen are locked in combat for the 2023 title — and a 2019 test day could prove key in their story.
Kostecki and van Gisbergen added a new — and the most dramatic — chapter to their Supercars rivalry last weekend in Perth.
The two Chevrolet drivers fought for victory in Race 7, and van Gisbergen emerged on top after a controversial battle.
Contact between the two led to a protest by Erebus Motorsport, with van Gisbergen managing to hang onto his win.
Kostecki has beaten van Gisbergen six times in nine starts this season, and leads the Kiwi by 136 points heading to Tasmania.
The Erebus driver can attribute his success to many drivers and teams along the way, and van Gisbergen can be added to that last.
Back in 2019, Kostecki had his first drive of a main game Supercar, sampling van Gisbergen's Red Bull Holden Racing Team ZB Commodore at an evaluation test day.
Then a Super2 rising star, Kostecki was selected to undertake an evaluation day at Queensland Raceway.
Kostecki and Malaysian GT driver Jazeman Jaafar were joined on the day by van Gisbergen, who got behind the wheel and offered pointers.
The two have been brought full circle as Kostecki is now aiming to steal van Gisbergen’s crown — but the reigning champion is enjoying his younger rival’s fight.
On Kostecki, van Gisbergen said after Saturday’s race: “He’s awesome.
“Everyone up the front now, and new guys, there’s no bad guys, everyone’s fun to race.
“There’s no one where I go, ‘Ah shit, this is going to be a pain’.
“Everyone’s good, fun to race… I enjoyed the battles.”
Kostecki lost the battle on Saturday, but is going the right way to win the war with a quarter of the season complete.
The next challenge for Erebus and Kostecki is holding off van Gisbergen in Tasmania, where the #97 Camaro driver has won five of the last seven races.
“The last time I remember doing something like that was probably go-karts,” Kostecki said.
“It’s not as fun for me coming second, but I had a lot of fun racing him.
“It is for the win, and it was three laps to go. That’s how racing should go.
“He was coming at me with a lot of pace. There’s probably a few things I could’ve done differently earlier in the race.
“As far as the last few laps, I did pretty much what I could."
The 2023 Repco Supercars Championship will resume at the NED Whisky Tasmania SuperSprint on May 19-21.
Tickets for the event are on sale on Supercars.com and Ticketek.com.