Van Gisbergen’s take on SMP quadruple-header formats

Shane van Gisbergen

Shane van Gisbergen has given a generally positive reaction to the Repco Supercars Championship’s tyre and format choices for the upcoming run of rounds at Sydney Motorsport Park.

Van Gisbergen was among several sceptics of the radical way of racing seen at the Eastern Creek facility last year, with Erebus Motorsport CEO Barry Ryan going as far as calling it “fake racing” at the time.

Both van Gisbergen and Triple Eight Race Engineering team-mate Jamie Whincup went podium-less at the second SMP event of 2020 which involved mixed tyre compounds.

The dose of Supercars action at SMP will double this year as the circuit holds events on four successive weekends before Bathurst.

Just the soft compound rubber will be used at the first and third of those events; soft and hard tyres will be in play at the second; and an extreme mix of super softs and hards will be deployed at the fourth.

Van Gisbergen believes those choices will collectively provide good action without being too gimmicky.

“They haven’t made it full lottery racing like last year but there’s a few gamble things,” he told Speedcafe.com.

“The compound change for the last one should be interesting because it is so drastically different, the hard versus the super soft.

“Normally it’s easier on tyres at night and better tarmac, but yeah, it’s not the best race track for our cars so you do need some difference to create passing, so I hope it makes for some good racing at least.”

The #97 driver does take some confidence into the season restarter, the Bunnings Trade Sydney SuperNight on October 29-31, based on SMP pace last year irrespective of race results.

“I put it out of my head because it was just a joke – there was three randoms on the podium and the best cars were battling for 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th,” he said of results at Sydney in 2020.

“I felt like our car was good but we just didn’t do a very good job of the tyre situation, we kept making mistakes strategy-wise.

“But our car pace was okay, we had some reasonable qualifyings and races when we were on equal tyres but for sure we left those races with things to improve on.”

A test day at Queensland Raceway yesterday is hoped to have the Red Bull and Ampol-backed squad on the front foot.

“We tried some things [yesterday] that hopefully make things better. We have got to see if they’ll work down at Eastern Creek,” van Gisbergen noted.

That test represented Triple Eight’s pre-Bathurst track day, despite Victorian-based co-driver Garth Tander being unable to attend due to border restrictions.

“You’re always looking for lap time but obviously it’s our test before Bathurst so you’re running in brakes and doing pit stop practice and pad changes and stuff like that,” said van Gisbergen.

“So it’s sort of just a pre-Bathurst test day but obviously a little bit more forward than we normally would be before Bathurst.”

The 32-year-old holds a 276-point championship lead over second-placed Whincup after seven of 12 events.

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