Motorsport: Van Gis steaming in the rain

By Eric Thompson

Kiwi V8 star hates driving in the wet, but he's still good at it

Shane van Gisbergen in the Sydney downpour.  Picture / Edge Photographics
Shane van Gisbergen in the Sydney downpour. Picture / Edge Photographics

One of the most well-respected motorsport team managers, Steve Hallam, can't work out why V8 Supercars driver Shane van Gisbergen is so good in the wet.

The Kiwi has told Driven he "hates" driving in the rain.

But anyone watching the Tekno Autosports racer last weekend at the Sydney Motorsport Park will be muttering, "Yeah right".

Racing in the wet is a great leveller, but as Hallam says, you still have to get all the parts working at their best.

"One of the great intangibles from where I sit is how he [Van Gisbergen] knows where the grip is, and how much he has to deal with," he said.

"The grip levels change every lap and I don't know how he does it. Some drivers are better at it than others, even though they don't like the conditions and Shane is honest about it.

"The thing that I do know is that Shane will give everything he's got any time he goes out, and he feels the car better than many others.

"He likes driving many different cars in different conditions, and I think that helps with him being able to cope with changing conditions."

Driven caught up with Van Gisbergen in Auckland during the week to get his thoughts on working with Hallam and "that" drive.

"Working with Steve is great and learning from him about what to look for with the car and how to describe what it's doing," Van Gisbergen said.

"The broadness of his understanding of how a car works is hard to believe.

"I still don't really know why I go so well in the wet but I know the car was great [Sydney] and I enjoyed going searching for grip. We were doing really wide lines and it seemed to work because there's no grip on the normal dry lines. I just seem to be able to pick it [finding grip] up a bit quicker than the others."

Other than his undoubted skill in wet and dry, Van Gisbergen's rise up the table to fourth place before the start of the three endurance rounds, is down to Hallam, his driver and the team's platform of consistency.

"Success in a V8 championship is realised over a season's campaign. Everybody strives for consistency but periodically you get the stool kicked out from underneath you as you try to attain a level of consistency that will gain you good results.

"This category is very outcome-focused - must win a championship, finish top three etc - and while these are worthy statements in isolation, they don't achieve anything. What a team has to do is to focus on is how it's going to achieve its goals, not what the goals are.

"Things don't always go to plan so you have to be prepared for days that don't go according to plan and learn from them. Every sports team in the world wants to find some level of consistency that allows them to perform at their best, and we're not alone in trying to do that.

"What I say to our guys here is that you're responsible for things inside your control, but not outside your control so don't worry about that. Everyone was employed because they are good at what they do and wishing and hoping doesn't achieve anything."

Van Gisbergen is also rejoining the V8 SuperTourers series with Smeg Racing after skipping the sprint races this year. He will partner with Simon Evans.

Van Gisbergen is the second full-time V8 Supercars pilot to confirm for the endurance rounds. Tim Slade will co-drive with Richard Moore.

"It's the first time I have ever been a co-driver and it is a different role," said Van Gisbergen. "But it's not about me this year. I have to bring the car home straight and bank the points for Simon."

Round one of the enduro series is at Taupo Motorsport Park on September 27 and 28.

Round two is at Hampton Downs on November 1 and 2, and the finale is at Pukekohe on November 29 and 30.

- NZ Herald

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