Van Gisbergen rising to single-car challenge

Shane van Gisbergen won three of the four races at Albert Park

Shane van Gisbergen won three of the four races at Albert Park

Shane van Gisbergen is confident that Tekno Autosports can become the first single-car team to win the V8 Supercars Championship in 17 years following his strong start to the season.

Tekno scaled back to one car this year following two seasons as a two-car squad, with former driver Jonathon Webb now focussing on his role as team owner.

Van Gisbergen flagged the change as a major unknown ahead of the season-opening Clipsal 500 earlier this month.

He left Adelaide third in the points standings before going on to win three from four races at the weekend’s non-championship Albert Park event.

The 24-year-old says that the results have come despite the difficulties brought about by lacking a team-mate.

A driver from a single-car team has not won the Australian Touring Car Championship/V8 Supercars Championship title since 1997, when Glenn Seton triumphed with his own Ford outfit.

The second most recent example came with Dick Johnson’s one-car Ford effort a full 30 years ago.

While Van Gisbergen and other senior Tekno staff join Red Bull Racing Australia for post-event debriefs at the Triple Eight workshop as part of the team’s customer deal, Tekno operates independently before and during race weekends.

“It’s a reasonable link but we’re still developing the car ourselves, myself and my engineer, in terms of set-up direction,” Van Gisbergen told of the Triple Eight relationship.

“Even last Thursday after practice it was difficult for us.

“The car wasn’t quite right and instead of looking at your team-mate’s data we were going off what we had last year. We were still learning the cars back then and they were very different.

“We definitely lack a little bit there, not having the data of a team-mate to back-up on.

“We’re just going to have to do the best preparation we can at the workshop and come out of the truck with a good enough set-up that we’re not chasing our tails.”

While the lack of a team-mate to share data with could hurt Van Gisbergen’s ability to be a consistent performer during the season, the Kiwi knows that minimising mistakes will be the key to his challenge.

His current championship position comes despite two on-track incidents on Saturday in Adelaide and a restart violation that triggered a drive-through penalty on the Sunday.

Van Gisbergen’s chances of sweeping all four races at Albert Park, meanwhile, were cruelled by a broken front anti-rollbar.

“We definitely have a good car, we just need to fix the mistakes,” he said.

“In Adelaide there were a couple of things that were my fault and then last weekend the reliability issue.

“If we get it right we’ve got a fast enough car (the contend for the title). We have the tools to do it, we just need to put it together.”

The downscaled Tekno outfit is this year being led by former Walkinshaw Racing managing director Steve Hallam, while Van Gisbergen is also working with a new race engineer.

Previously on Webb’s entry, Dr Geoff Slater moved across to Van Gisbergen as part of the restructure, with the Kiwi’s former engineer Blake Smith now at the Holden Racing Team alongside Garth Tander.

“It’s certainly not been a bad thing,” said Van Gisbergen of the changes.

“I worked pretty closely with both Blake and Geoff last year, so there was already a relationship there.

“It’s just the words and descriptions we both have, we need to understand the level of what they mean in regards to changes and how to approach the races.

“Steve has been really good, he’s quite a deep thinker. It’s been a good change and I think it’s only going to get better with him here.

“It’s a tight-knit group of people as it needs to be with one car. He’s made everyone work well together so I’m pretty impressed so far.”

Van Gisbergen will be joined by Webb for the Pirtek Enduro Cup later in the year in what promises to be one of the field’s strongest combinations.

The one-time V8 Supercars race winner had planned on taking a paid drive with the Holden Racing Team for the three events before Tekno’s link to Triple Eight saw the deal quashed.

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