Van Gisbergen is playing catch-up and hopes the team will click at Phillip Island.

Kiwi Supercars driver Shane van Gisbergen is crossing his fingers in hope that his new Red Bull ZB Holden Commodore works well at the unique Phillip Island race track this weekend.

The 2016 champion saw his series lead evaporate last round in Tasmania and is hoping he won't fall further behind on a fast and flowing track that is a lot more European in style than any other circuit the series visits.

"With our new car this year we are sort of figuring it out as we go," van Gisbergen told Radio Sport. "All four tracks we have used so far this year are all completely different. This will be another test and it will be interesting to see how it will go.

"Phillip Island is all high speed corners - there are three or four corners that are all over 200km/h.

Advertisement

"For that we set the car up with as much downforce as we can.

"It is probably one of the best tracks we do - so fast and flowing.

"It is hard on our cars with not much downforce. It is always tough but definitely a good track.

"We were pretty good on a low downforce track a couple of weeks ago so we will see how we go [on a high downforce track]."

A last-place finish in Tasmania a fortnight ago really hurt van Gisbergen's championship points tally. A loose screw saw him lose brake bias, which made his Holden extremely hard to drive. As a result he dropped to fifth in the standings and 40 points behind leader Jamie Whincup.

But it is too early in the season to be worrying about missed opportunities and van Gisbergen is confident he has a car to contend with this season.

"We are still in the hunt in the championship and there is a long way to so we have to fight for every point we can get," he said.

"Our car is going pretty good this year. I think we have made some really good gains with our set-ups as well. Back on these tyres I think we have made some good steps forward.

"It is so close. There have been a few different winners this year and every week it seems there are a couple of extras that turn up with fast cars."●Van Gisbergen has welcomed the return of Ford's manufacturer support to the championship with the Mustang replacing the Falcon in 2019.

"That is awesome," he said. "I think regardless of what car it is, it's good to have the Ford back with the manufacturer support.

"They haven't supported V8s for a long time so to have them back in the sport with a pretty cool car is an awesome thing.

"That brand and that car have a pretty big history in our series so it is awesome to have them back.

"It will be good to compete against each other.

"That's the point of why we do this and why everyone supports us - we want to be able to compete against the best."

•This weekend marks a couple of milestones with Nissan driver Rick Kelly becoming the sixth driver in history to start 500 Supercars races and Ford's Mark Winterbottom brings up his 200th starts.

Dixon needs to score win

Kiwi Scott Dixon is this weekend desperate for a breakthrough win in the Indycar Championship.

Barber Motorsport Park in Alabama has yielded Dixon seven podium finishes from eight starts at the venue but he is yet to stand on the top spot during that run.

A win at the first road circuit of the season would be worth its weight in gold for the four-time champion.

"We've been coming to Barber since 2010, and it's been a really good track for us, but we've yet to win it," Dixon said. "I think we've been on the podium nearly every race, with five or so of those being second-place finishes.

"It's such a great event and you can really see what a great job the track does with the crowds growing year over year. Hopefully, this will be our year with the PNC Bank car."

Dixon is sixth in the standings after three rounds. Indianapolis 500 winner Alexander Rossi leads with reigning series champ Josef Newgarden second.