Van Gisbergen thriving with packed racing programme

Shane van Gisbergen wins the Bathurst 6 Hour. Picture: Australian Racing Group

Shane van Gisbergen has credited his remarkable run of form with simply driving cars as often as he can.

Van Gisbergen took out the weekend’s Hi-Tec Oils Bathurst 6 Hour after extending his winning streak in the Repco Supercars Championship to five races this year, and six dating back to last year’s Bathurst 1000, a fortnight earlier at Sandown.

Even when his unbeaten start to 2021 in all categories came to an end at Mount Panorama, in the latter race of Round 2 of Fanatec GT World Challenge Australia Powered by AWS, the New Zealander finished second in the Triple Eight Race Engineering entry which he shared with Prince Jefri Ibrahim.

A day earlier, he had hauled the silver Mercedes-AMG GT3 to victory after a wheel-to-wheel battle with his Supercars co-driver, Garth Tander.

All that comes after van Gisbergen won the New Zealand Grand Prix despite starting from pit lane, the Battle of Jacks Ridge, and his class in the City of Auckland Rally, while at home for the off-season.

Asked what his secret was, the 31-year-old told Speedcafe.com, “Just good people, good teams.

“I’m always in good cars, always with the best teams, and just being in the right place at the right time.

“And, you know, it’s a good saying, ‘the more I practice, the luckier I get,’ so I’m always trying to drive.”

The latest win, in the Bathurst 6 Hour, was not straightforward given one of van Gisbergen’s co-drivers, Shane Smollen, had incurred a five-second penalty for a Safety Car restart breach.

With no scope to get it out of the way in a pit stop or by way of a drive-through, van Gisbergen had to build the necessary lead and hope that another Safety Car would not be called late in the piece.

But for that element of randomness which could have cruelled the #97 BMW’s hopes, the win hardly seemed in doubt during the run home.

Nevertheless, he refuted the suggestion that wins seem inevitable at the moment, instead putting the results down to hard work and preparation.

“No, you still have to prepare well and do the job,” explained van Gisbergen.

“But, I just know when I turn up to the track with whatever car I’m in, I’ve got a chance, and as long as we get it right, and working with the engineers and the mechanics…

“There was a lot to work on from the start of the [6 Hour] weekend but we got it right.”

van Gisbergen on the Bathurst 6 Hour podium with Shane Smollen and Rob Rubis. Picture: Australian Racing Group

With wins already in the Bathurst 12 Hour and the Bathurst 1000, the triumph in the Bathurst 6 Hour with car owner Smollen and Rob Rubis means that van Gisbergen is the second driver to complete that ‘triple crown’, after Paul Morris.

However, he is the first to do so having won the 12 Hour in the GT3 era, in a McLaren 650S in 2016.

When that was put to him, van Gisbergen also noted his two race wins at Mount Panorama when this year’s Supercars season kicked off, but says the achievement is something to reflect on well into the future.

“Oh, yeah, and the 500, I guess,” he remarked about the collection of Bathurst victories.

“Yeah, it’s pretty cool, but probably something you look on in 15 years and look back on and be pretty stoked about.

“But, for now, it’s just awesome to win a race.”

The Sandown SuperSprint sweep and his two race wins at Mount Panorama on the weekend just gone have also come after the 2016 Supercars champion broke his left collarbone and also ribs in a mountain bike crash in early-March.

Now able to head back to his Gold Coast base after the recent lockdown which caused a pre-event headache for his Brisbane team, van Gisbergen will be back in the hyperbaric chamber as the recovery continues.

“I’m sore, but once I was driving, I was fine,” he explained post-race.

“Now I’ve stopped, it’s a bit tight, but it is what it is.

“I’m allowed to go back to the Gold Coast, so I’ll be in the hyperbaric chamber another week and trying to get better.”

Van Gisbergen’s next event is the Beaurepaires Tasmania SuperSprint, on April 17-18.

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