Van Gisbergen not wishing for Kostecki problems in title hunt

28 Oct
Shane van Gisbergen is chasing down Brodie Kostecki, but isn't hoping for drama for championship leader
  • Shane van Gisbergen isn't wishing for problems for Brodie Kostecki in title fight

  • Van Gisbergen topped Friday practice at the Gold Coast

  • Kostecki leads van Gisbergen by 131 points with 600 remaining

Shane van Gisbergen is hunting down Brodie Kostecki, but isn't wishing drama on the championship leader as the fight for 2023 glory turns to the Gold Coast.

Bathurst winner van Gisbergen, who set the pace on Friday at the Boost Mobile Gold Coast 500, enters the weekend 131 points behind series leader Kostecki.

Remarkably, at no stage in 2023 has reigning champion van Gisbergen led the championship.

He headed into 2023 as the two-time defending champ, having won 35 races across 2021 and 2022. However, the #97 has not been orange at all this year.

Van Gisbergen, Kostecki, Will Brown and Broc Feeney — and their teams, Erebus Motorsport and Triple Eight — have closely fought for 2023 glory, often fiercely and controversially, for the majority of the season.

However, only Kostecki, Brown, Walkinshaw Andretti United’s Chaz Mostert and Tickford Racing’s Cam Waters have worn the orange numbers this year. 

Kostecki, SVG ready for Gold Coast chapter of title fight

It’s a stark contrast to the previous two years for van Gisbergen, who raced with orange numbers in all bar three of 64 races across the 2021 and 2022 seasons — two of those because it was the first race of the year, as there was no points leader.

Van Gisbergen has been in fightback mode ever since his Newcastle disqualification despite crossing the line first in Race 1. If the points are adjusted pre-disqualification, van Gisbergen would have been leading Kostecki by 37 points.

His average deficit to the championship leader after each round this season is 117 points. However, that’s not to say van Gisbergen has been off the pace all year — the deficit was as little as 44 points after Sydney, and as big as 172 points after Tasmania.

Regardless, van Gisbergen — who will shift to NASCAR in 2024 — doesn’t want misadventure for Kostecki in the final races of the year to help deliver a fourth drivers’ championship. 

"Championship wise, it’s obviously a close one,” said van Gisbergen, who wrapped up the 2022 title on the Gold Coast with a clean sweep.

“But Brodie has to have a problem during the races for us to be in with a chance, and that’s not something I’d wish upon anyone. 

"I just need to do my best, be up the front every race and score as many points as possible. 

"Hopefully we go to Adelaide on Sunday with a chance, but he still has a pretty decent lead."

Friday Press Conference: 2023 Boost Mobile Gold Coast 500

Van Gisbergen clocked the fastest time on Friday practice on a day curtailed by rain and debris in Practice 1, setting the scene for a thrilling ARMOR ALL Qualifying on Saturday.

Kostecki was 12th on the timesheets, but Erebus boss Barry Ryan suggested in a TV interview that his star driver would have been at the top had he finish his lap.

"All of our plans went out the window when it started raining 30 seconds before the first practice session," van Gisbergen said. 

"It was difficult not being able to do continuous running with the track conditions always changing, but we ended the day in pretty good shape. 

"We obviously wanted to try a few more different things today but everyone was in the same boat."

Supercars will hit the track for ARMOR ALL Qualifying on Saturday at 11:35am local time/12:05pm AEDT.

Van Gisbergen’s rollercoaster title defence

  • Newcastle: 11th, 126 points behind Mostert

  • Albert Park: 3rd, 86 points behind Kostecki

  • Perth: 3rd, 136 points behind Kostecki

  • Tasmania: 4th, 172 points behind Kostecki

  • Darwin: 4th, 110 points behind Kostecki

  • Townsville: 4th, 72 points behind Brown

  • Sydney: 3rd, 44 points behind Kostecki

  • Tailem Bend: 2nd, 137 points behind Kostecki

  • Sandown: 2nd, 155 points behind Kostecki

  • Bathurst: 2nd, 131 points behind Kostecki

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