Motorsport: Kiwi might be the driver to beat this year

By Dale Budge

Shane Van Gisbergen during qualifying of the Hidden Valley Triple Crown. Photo / Getty Images
Shane Van Gisbergen during qualifying of the Hidden Valley Triple Crown. Photo / Getty Images

He lies fifth in the championship standings currently but you get the feeling Kiwi driver Shane van Gisbergen may just be the guy to beat in this year's Virgin Supercars Championship.

The 27-year-old Aucklander bagged two pole positions, a Sunday race win and was given a drive through penalty whilst leading the Saturday race to completely dominate the field at Hidden Valley Raceway near Darwin last weekend.

"We had a test day last Tuesday that went really well and made some good improvements to the car," van Gisbergen tells

"It was pretty exciting to get to a different circuit and see the hard work pay off.
"It was an awesome car all weekend.

"Saturday was just a small error that proved pretty costly where we had a good result go begging. The pace all weekend was awesome and I'm looking forward to carrying it on."

The incident saw van Gisbergen overtake leader Michael Caruso on the front straight as the race re-started after a safety car intervention. Some commentators felt the Kiwi was unlucky as Caruso kind of balked at the re-start and there was confusion as to when cars were released to race again but the maturing van Gisbergen is happy to take responsibility for the error.

"Nah I stuffed up there," he says.

In his first season with Red Bull Racing Australia van Gisbergen has been a serious contender at every one of the six rounds of the championship so far with just a couple of small mistakes proving costly and preventing him from taking a significant series lead. He was caught out by some oil whilst leading late in a race in Tasmania, was burnt by a crazy weather situation at the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide and blew last Saturday's race with a minor error on the re-start.

"This year it is a great team and we have been quick at most rounds.

"It has been a crazy year - we've had nine or 10 winners in 14 races - it has been pretty epic how close it all is.

"We need to get some more consistency and it will have us a bit further up the standings."

Before the next round in Townsville on July 8-10 van Gisbergen is heading off to Europe to drive for the McLaren sports car team in France and then will head to the Austrian Formula 1 Grand Prix to cheer on friend and countryman Mitch Evans in GP2.

Between his sports car commitments, drifting and his fulltime V8 Supercar drive van Gisbergen is arguably the busiest driver in the series but he sees that as a benefit to his championship chances.

"I wouldn't do it otherwise," he explains. "It is awesome to be in a car and see different parts of the world and race some cool cars.

"I would race every weekend if I could but I'm struggling to find more space in the calendar."

While locked in with Red Bull Racing for the next three seasons van Gisbergen admits he would love to have a crack at one of the sport's biggest events sometime soon.

"The only thing is Le Mans would be cool to do but I am with Red Bull for the next three years."

- NZ Herald

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