Van Gisbergen: Triple Eight won’t be fastest in Tasmania

Shane van Gisbergen holds 150-point advantage in the drivers’ championship

Repco Supercars Championship leader Shane van Gisbergen says he doesn’t expect his team to be the quickest at this weekend’s Beaurepaires Tasmania SuperSprint.

That’s despite Symmons Plains International Raceway being one of Red Bull Ampol Racing’s most successful circuits on the calendar and van Gisbergen being in the midst of a purple patch.

The 31-year-old has been a dominant force since taking out last year’s Bathurst 1000 with Garth Tander, winning the first five races of 2021.

Nevertheless, the Kiwi anticipates the third event of the year may see a swing in momentum with doubts Triple Eight Race Engineering will be quickest on outright pace.

“We’ve done well there in the past, but that’s over two years ago,” said van Gisbergen.

“Set-ups have come a long way since then, and teams have developed, so I don’t expect us to be outright fastest because there will be so many other quick guys on track.

“I’m sure we’ll be up or near the front – there’s no reason not to be, but we’ll prepare the best we can with our engineering team.”

Supercars hasn’t raced at Symmons Plains since 2019 due to the coronavirus pandemic putting paid to the 2020 edition.

Last time out, van Gisbergen and compatriot Scott McLaughlin of the then known DJR Team Penske shared the spoils across the weekend’s two races.

While van Gisbergen has some apprehension about the team’s prospects ahead of this weekend’s three-race event, the team has traditionally performed exceptionally at the circuit.

Since 2007 the team has had a win every year they have raced at Symmons Plains, bar 2013.

In that instance, Brad Jones Racing drivers Fabian Coulthard and Jason Bright took the spoils in the short-lived 60-60 format.

Van Gisbergen swept the season-opening Mount Panorama 500 and Sandown SuperSprint

Since joining Triple Eight Race Engineering in 2006, Jamie Whincup has claimed 12 wins and a further eight podiums at Symmons Plains.

Meanwhile, van Gisbergen has just two wins there with Triple Eight (2017, 2019), the former which was punctuated by a pile-up that saw the race ended up four laps in.

Despite the race being called early, the win was still counted.

Former full-timer Craig Lowndes also had success at Symmons Plains, winning five times with Triple Eight between 2005 and 2018.

While only having seven corners in all, Van Gisbergen said the Launceston circuit comes with its challenges.

“I’m really looking forward to this weekend,” he said.

“It’s always a cool track, a cool event, and the weather always varies which can make racing conditions tough, but I always love racing there.

“The hairpin has developed that the wide line is actually the fastest, so it’s so inviting to shoot up the inside. I’m looking forward to getting back out there.

“Symmons Plains looks so easy on paper, but it’s definitely not. They say on the track map that there are seven corners, but in essence there are only three, and they’re all left-turn corners.

“It’s a tough track to get right because everyone’s so close.”

As it stands, van Gisbergen holds a 150-point advantage over team-mate Jamie Whincup in the drivers’ championship.

Walkinshaw Andretti United’s Chaz Mostert lies third and 163 points in arrears of van Gisbergen.

Cameron Waters of Tickford Racing, who has three second-place finishes to his name this year, lies 170 points back from the lead.

The Tasmania SuperSprint takes place across April 17-18.

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