Young New Zealand V8 Supercars driver Shane van Gisbergen arrives in Hamilton for the ITM400 this weekend full of confidence.
The event titleholder knows he can win on home soil and is in hot form having finished second behind defending champion Jamie Whincup in race two at the recent round at Symmons Plains, Tasmania. This result backed up a sterling effort in race one on the Saturday where he crossed the line fourth.
Van Gisbergen, fourth on the championship table nicely tucked in behind third-placed FPR driver Mark Winterbottom, is looking forward to doing battle on the streets of the Frankton District in Hamilton for the last time.
"I'm just trying to forget about winning there [Hamilton] last time," said Van Gisbergen. "This is a new year and we have to go out there and try and do what we did last year and put two good days together.
Van Gisbergen has often stated he likes a car that is a little loose and hence does not have too much of a problem in the wet. Last year's break- through win for the Kiwi was in the wet, where he exhibited great car control, but it is the track and not the weather that appeals to him.
"It's a good little street circuit and the only bad part is that chicane but it's the same for everyone. We just have to put up with it and deal with it.
"As a track though, it's pretty cool and great to push hard on and I'm looking forward to giving it a real go. Every driver looks forward to coming over and racing in Hamilton," said Van Gisbergen.
This will be the last time fans will be able to see the big taxis booming around the Hamilton street circuit and van Gisbergen is keen to see, not only himself on the podium again, but any one of the other two Kiwi drivers in the championship.
"It's pretty sad in some ways that it's the last race at Hamilton and it'd be pretty exciting if a Kiwi driver, or drivers, can stand on the podium. It would be really cool for the last time there," he said. "It would be a dream if me, [Greg] Murphy and [Fabian] Coulthard could be on the podium at the same time but I don't know about the likelihood of that though."
Van Gisbergen is pleased with his pace early in the season and the team has a good base setup with no major issues to contend with, and the team is steadily progressing with each round.
"We might be a little bit behind Triple Eight and FPR at the moment but if we have a good weekend we can certainly push them.
"The FPR cars really suit street circuits so Will [Davison] and Mark [Winterbottom] will be quick and probably the ones to beat on a street circuit," said Van Gisbergen.
Action starts on Friday with practice and qualifying followed by the top 10 shootout and race one on Saturday with more qualifying and race two on Sunday.
Points after two rounds:
Will Davison 567
Jamie Whincup 549
Mark Winterbottom 471
Shane van Gisbergen 432
Lee Holdsworth 387
Garth Tander 368
Tim Slade 357
Craig Lowndes 317.