Slower V8s tougher than record-setting McLaren
His 2m01.286s in qualifying for the Bathurst 12 Hour is the fastest lap to ever be officially recorded at Mount Panorama – but Shane van Gisbergen says it was far from the hardest lap of his career.
The Kiwi earned himself a spot in the history books initially by becoming the first driver to break into the 2m01s, before sealing the Mt. Panorama lap record by wrangling the McLaren 650S GT3 down to a 2m01.286s.
That time is significantly quicker than the fastest ever V8 Supercars lap, a 2m04.909s set by Jamie Whincup last year, and even well clear of the current official race lap record of 2m02.670s, which belongs to former Formula 3 driver Simon Hodge.
The only thing that stops it from being the fastest lap of all time at Mount Panorama is the McLaren Formula 1 demonstration that took place back in 2011, where Jenson Button reportedly lapped The Mountain in 1m48s – although there was no official timing set up.
But while van Gisbergen’s lap was undoubtedly something special, he says it was “easier than doing a 2m05s in a V8 Supercar”.
“You’re still pushing to the max and on the limit, but things happen a lot easier than they do in a V8,” van Gisbergen told Motorsport.com.
“At Turn 1, you’re full ABS and then straight onto full traction control. The car does it for you.
“Corners like that are easy, but over the top you have to just push and hang on. And down the hill is crazy. Those kinds of corners, the high-speed stuff, you have to have some balls. But the low-speed stuff the car does it for you.
“Still, seeing that number come on the dash was pretty cool.”
Experience makes the difference
Having spent plenty of time in a McLaren GT car in Europe over the last 12 months, van Gisbergen says his speed advantage comes from knowing both the car and the daunting circuit very well.
“I don’t think I’m a driver who is nine-tenths of a second quicker than Will Davison,” he commented on his margin over Tekno Autosport teammate. “I just know the car and the limit.
"Will hadn’t driven the car at all until yesterday, and you can’t feel the limit without going over it, and this isn’t a track where you want to do that.
“So on the data, all of the time he is losing is on the high-speed corners.”
Tyre war crucial
With focus now switching from a one-lap sprint to a 12-hour marathon, van Gisbergen is tipping that the tyre war between Pirelli-shod cars like his and Michelin-shod cars like the Jamec Pem Audis will be key on Sunday.
“We spent all day [on Friday] doing race stuff on heavy fuel, and with managing tyres,” he said.
“I think we’re okay. It’s all going to be about the tyre war; the Michelin will be better in the morning when it’s cold, and we’ve struggled when it’s cold in the morning sessions. But during the day we’ll be okay.”
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