Van Gisbergen knew tyre struggle was coming

Shane van Gisbergen

Shane van Gisbergen says that he knew he would struggle for tyre life after falling from a penultimate lap race lead to a finish of ninth in Race 25.

The 2016 champion had effectively led the opening race of the Repco SuperSprint The Bend from the end of the first lap but had Jack Le Brocq tailing him after the pit stops.

While clearly wanting for pace, van Gisbergen defended stoutly and overturned one move by his Tickford rival with a criss-cross.

However, another attack from Le Brocq left the Red Bull Holden Racing Team driver vulnerable to Fabian Coulthard, who finally made a move on #97 stick at the start of Lap 23.

Coulthard went on to take victory while van Gisbergen lost positions hand over fist and took the chequered flag in 10th, although he got one of those spots back due to a penalty for Scott McLaughlin.

The race was the first on the soft compound tyre at The Bend Motorsport Park, a circuit characterised by a very smooth surface but also long, high-load corners.

Van Gisbergen tried to manage his rubber but could not cling on to what would have been a second straight win.

“It was a pretty hard day today, but we had pretty good speed all day,” he recounted.

“We didn’t quite get it done in the shootout, but we still managed to start on the second row for today’s race.

“I got the lead early due to Jamie (Whincup) and Scotty (McLaughlin) coming together, but I could sense early on in the race that the tyres weren’t so good, so I tried to drive as slowly as possible in the second stint.

“The tyres got worse and worse and eventually went away. It was a pretty good battle there at the end – I did my best to hold everyone off, but it wasn’t to be.

“I guess for tomorrow, we’ll keep the qualifying car pretty similar, and in the race, we’ll do what we can to make the tyres last as long as possible.”

Van Gisbergen remains fifth in the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, 23 points and one position behind Chaz Mostert.

Qualifying for tomorrow’s two races kicks off from 09:20 local time/09:50 AEST.

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