VAN GISBERGEN JUSTIFIES FAITH WITH FIFTH IN SECOND V8 SUPERCAR RACE IN ADELAIDE Young New Zealand racing driver Shane Van Gisbergen (SP Tools Ford Falcon) justified the faith shown in him by compatriots Jimmy and Ross Stone of Stone Brothers ...
VAN GISBERGEN JUSTIFIES FAITH WITH FIFTH IN SECOND V8 SUPERCAR RACE IN ADELAIDE
Young New Zealand racing driver Shane Van Gisbergen (SP Tools Ford Falcon) justified the faith shown in him by compatriots Jimmy and Ross Stone of Stone Brothers Racing by finishing fifth overall and first Kiwi across the line in the second race at the first round of the 2008 Australian V8 Supercar Championship in Adelaide on Sunday.
After qualifying and finishing the weekend's first marathon 78-lap race on Saturday afternoon in 13th position the 18-year-old from Auckland drove the race of his life to finish the second 78-race of the weekend on Sunday in fifth place, behind race one and round winner Jamie Whincup (Ford), and Holden men Lee Holdsworth, Cameron McConville and Todd Kelly but in front of Holden young gun Rick Kelly and Tasman Motorsport teammates Greg Murphy and Jason Richards.
It was a performance which had the large Kiwi contingent at the season-opening Clipsal 500 meeting on their feet, not to mention series statisticians flicking back through the record books to see try and establish if an 18-year-old rookie with less than half a season in V8s under his belt has ever finished so far up the field.
With his 13th place in the first race Van Gisbergen heads to the second round of the 2008 Australian V8 Supercar Championship in sixth place in the series points standings behind Whincup, Holdsworth, Rick Kelly, Steven Johnson and Todd Kelly.
After qualifying team principle Ross Stone told reporters that; "Shane's performance today was what we needed to show the potential that we know he has. His feedback and feel was great today. We know that tomorrow will be tough but we are confident that he will keep his head down and put in a solid race."
Which - in a nutshell - is exactly what he did on Saturday, despite the burden of a 'cool' suit which malfunctioned on the grid and left its wearer sweating in 40-plus C degree heat for most of the race.
"I probably wasn't as aggressive at the start as I should have been but we stuck with the front bunch," the young Kiwi said of the first part of the race."I knew it was going to be even harder when my cool suit failed on the grid, and my legs did start to numb up and it got hard towards the end but I wasn't going to give up."
As it turned out, that race was really just a dress rehearsal for the second one on Sunday, Van Gisbergen spending the first 40 or so laps battling away just outside the top ten, then the rest of the race - after choosing to make his stop early - working his way from 13th to fifth.
The real progress was made between laps 42 - when he was running in 13th place - and lap 65, when he made it into sixth.
Two laps later he was fifth and that's where he stayed to the flag.
After which he had this to say;
"There was a lot going on today during the race, plenty of desperate moves from a lot of the guys out there. But for me, it was a matter of keeping it really clean and straight. We had very consistent lap times right through the race and it was just a great job from the boys, the SP Tools Racing crew really deserve it.
"I guess there were a lot of unfortunate drivers out there today, but we just tried to stick with the front bunch and we came away with the result.
"I really didn't think we would be in the top five this early. It's just awesome; I passed people like my childhood hero Murph (Greg Murphy) and Rick Kelly, a V8 Supercar champion. I just can't wait to get up there on the top step of the podium."
Not surprisingly, team manager Ross Stone was also very happy with the result
"Shane's effort today was absolutely outstanding, " he said. "To pass drivers such as Rick Kelly and hold him off for a number of laps was very impressive.
"The SP Tools Racing Falcon had good race speed and Shane's race craft was excellent.
"Jimmy and I felt that a top 15 finish would be a good result here so a top five result is just a bonus."
Unfortunately Van Gisbergen's teammate on the Stone Brothers Racing squad, former World Kart Champion and Formula 1 test driver James Courtney, had another horror day at the 3.22 km Adelaide Parkland circuit, retiring from the second race on lap 56 after a passing move by Craig Lowndes at turn ten sent both cars into the concrete barrier, with neither car able to continue.
Courtney was in second place at the time, having raced his way from 16th on the grid.
The focus of this year's Australian V8 Supercar championship now moves to Sydney for the second round of the 2008 series at Eastern Creek in a fortnight's time.