Van Gisbergen felt ‘presence’ in T8 garage after Race 12 calamities

Triple Eight Race Engineering celebrates after winning Race 14

Shane van Gisbergen felt an “increased presence” in Triple Eight Race Engineering’s garage this morning after a pit stop drama cost him a likely win on the afternoon prior.

Van Gisbergen extended his Repco Supercars Championship lead by driving the #97 Red Bull Ampol Racing entry to victory in both Races 13 and 14 at the Merlin Darwin Triple Crown.

However, he could well have had a rare Triple Crown title but for an almost 30-second pit stop in Race 12 due to an issue with the left-rear wheel nut.

The New Zealander would finish only 13th, and team-mate Jamie Whincup was just a position better off after being nudged onto the grass at the first corner of the contest.

Triple Eight reviewed the stop overnight and van Gisbergen delivered on the race track again, while Whincup also bounced back with a pair of third placings.

“Right from this morning you could tell there was an increased presence in the garage – we were hungrier than ever after some not-so-good results yesterday,” said #97.

“Everyone just wanted to have a good day. We had our problems fixed from yesterday, and everyone was super focused.

“Right from the team briefing this morning, we made good calls on the car, which really helped us all day.

“We didn’t quite have the speed of Will [Davison] in qualifying, but I knew our car would be good during the race.

“The racing was all about the start and I got three good starts all weekend which is surprising for me – it’s something I need to keep up.

“Overall, it was an awesome day for the team with a few wins and a few podiums, and a great day for our team points.”

The wins in the Top End were van Gisbergen’s seventh and eighth of the season, after he went six in a row to start the season.

The 2016 champion also picked up three podiums and a further two top 10 finishes in the winless run of six, and unofficially won the round at the event which preceded Darwin, namely that of The Bend.

Nevertheless, a not uncommon opinion was that the formline was still something of a slump, a suggestion which he refuted.

“We’ve had a pretty good run; I don’t know why people are saying going average,” remarked van Gisbergen in the post-Race 14 press conference.

“We came second at Tailem [Bend, Race 11] and won the round and stuff. As far as I’m concerned, it’s going pretty well.

“I think people just had high standards and expectations after the first two rounds but yeah, we’re still going awesome.”

The 32-year-old now boasts a total of 48 Supercars Championship/Australian Touring Car Championship race wins, drawing level with Peter Brock at sixth all-time.

“I obviously don’t compare myself to someone like him, but that’s pretty special really when I think about it now, what a man he is and how much he still means to so many people,” said van Gisbergen of matching that marker.

“Yeah, I certainly don’t compare myself to him, but that’s pretty cool.”

Van Gisbergen leads Whincup by 221 championship points ahead of Event 6 of the season, the NTI Townsville 500, on July 9-11.

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