Winton: Shane van Gisbergen weekend summary

VAN GISBERGEN EIGHTH OVERALL AFTER STUNNING COME-FROM-BEHIND WINTON DRIVE Young gun Shane van Gisbergen is now eighth overall and top Kiwi in the V8 Supercar points standings after a standout performance at the fourth round of the 2009 series at...

VAN GISBERGEN EIGHTH OVERALL AFTER STUNNING COME-FROM-BEHIND WINTON DRIVE

Young gun Shane van Gisbergen is now eighth overall and top Kiwi in the V8 Supercar points standings after a standout performance at the fourth round of the 2009 series at Benalla's Winton Raceway over the weekend.

After being second quickest and one of only two drivers to circulate under the circuit lap record on Dunlop's new SP Sport Maxx Sprint tyre in the second practice session on Friday, the 19-year-old from Auckland's Manukau City came back from an early crash in the first qualifying session to storm from 27th place on the grid to an amazing sixth at the chequered flag in the first race of the weekend on Saturday.

Then after just missing out on a spot in the top ten (he was 11th just 0:00.0064 of a second behind James Courtney in tenth) in the second qualifying session on Sunday morning he salvaged a 12th place finish in the race after falling back as far as 23rd when a problem with a wheel nut slowed his pit stop.

Both races were won by Craig Lowndes with teammate Jamie Whincup second on Saturday and fellow Ford driver Mark Winterbottom second on Sunday.

The results see Whincup retain his overall points lead with Will Davison second for Holden and Steve Johnson third in another Ford, but Kiwis Jason Richards and Fabian Coulthard slipping back behind van Gisbergen for ninth and tenth places respectively.

The weekend obviously had its highs and its lows for van Gisbergen and the Stone Brothers Racing team. And though pleased with his come-from-behind performance in the first race van Gisbergen says that he and the team are going to have to work out how to keep improving the SP Tools car in the vital last stages of each qualifying session.

"Overall it was a pretty solid weekend in that we got good points and and came away with any penalties or drive throughs but we certainly need to find something in qualifying. We always seem to be quick in practice but the other teams seem to find that little bit extra when it comes to qualifying."

Predictably the hard-charging young van Gisbergen loved the new high-grip Dunlop Sport Maxx tyre, using it to spectacular effect in practice in Friday.

"It's great," he said this morning, "there's heaps more grip everywhere and while it's at its best it makes the car a lot better to drive as well."

And that early crash in qualifying?

"Yes, " he says, " I pushed a bit hard into Turn 5 and went off. The front end (nose cone) of the car came off when I went through a ditch and though we were able to get it back to the pits and back out onto the track I only managed two more laps before the end of the session."

Fortunately teams can nominate when they can use the new, stickier, Sport Maxx compound tyres so Stone Brothers Racing brought the SP Tools Ford Falcon in after just three laps in the first race.

Though he had already made up 11 positions on the first lap and another on the second van Gisbergen picked off one and sometimes two or three spots a lap after the pit stop until he was in sixth place when the chequered flag came out.

Next up is a full day's test at Queensland International Raceway at Ipswich on May 14 before the team starts packing for the long trip south to the fifth round of the 2009 V8 Superior series at Symmons Plains Raceway in Tasmania over the May 30-31 weekend.

-credit: svg

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Series Supercars
Drivers James Courtney , Will Davison , Fabian Coulthard , Craig Lowndes , Jason Richards , Jamie Whincup , Mark Winterbottom , Steve Johnson , Shane van Gisbergen