Van Gisbergen: SBR has bridged gap to T8 and FPR
Shane van Gisbergen says that Stone Brothers Racing has bridged some of the gap to the dominant TeamVodafone and Ford Performance Racing teams ahead of the category’s return to Sydney Motorsport Park this weekend.
Van Gisbergen, currently fifth in the V8 Supercars Championship, is the highest placed non-Vodafone/FPR driver, albeit a distant 580 points behind title leader Jamie Whincup.
After a pair of seventh place results at Queensland Raceway three weeks ago, the SP Tools-backed driver is confident that SBR is closer than ever to the leading two teams – currently undefeated in 2012.
“We made some headway at Queensland Raceway, which is our test track. Eastern Creek will be a real test to see if our improvements are better,” van Gisbergen told Speedcafe.com.
“We’re definitely out to win races and try and prove ourselves.
“I think we’ve closed the gap a bit to the front guys. Hopefully this weekend confirms that.
“The front four are a long way ahead in the points. It’s going to take a bit to catch them, but we’ll keep our heads down.”
The Sydney Motorsport Park 360 at the refurbished Eastern Creek facility has seen a number of changes, both on and off the track.
The most significant changes include the straightening of the road between Turn 5 and 6, plus a large amount of circuit resurfacing.
Tyre regulations for the shortened two-day meeting will see each entry receive four hard tyres and two softs, meaning tyre management will be crucial.
Van Gisbergen predicts that the V8 Supercars lap record will be broken, but says that curbed aggression will be the key in the races.
“There’s been a bit of talk about the tyre plans, working through it with our engineers, and it’s going to be all about getting onto the soft tyre as quick and early as you can (in the races),” he says.
“The stints will be quite long on that tyre. You won’t be pushing too hard too early. Some people might pop in a glory lap and try and get the lap record, but it’s going to be the whole stint where you’ll win the race – not just over one lap.
“The expectation is a long, controlled stint on the soft tyre.”
V8 Supercars track action kicks off tomorrow at the western Sydney circuit.
See below for Speedcafe.com’s Sydney Motorsport Park 360 Race Guide.