DJR boss: Van Gisbergen is the championship favourite

Will Davison chases Shane van Gisbergen at Sydney Motorsport Park. Picture: Mark Horsburgh

The Shell V-Power Racing Team has identified the importance of starting the 2022 Repco Supercars Championship well to cash in on its continuity advantage.

Archrivals Triple Eight Race Engineering dominated last season, particularly before the mid-season break, as Shell-backed Dick Johnson Racing got up to speed with its all-new driver line-up.

This off-season, it’s Triple Eight which has undergone all the change.

Shane van Gisbergen is back, but he has a new race engineer in former Brad Jones Racing ace Andrew Edwards.

Next to them in the garage will again be the #88, but now with Broc Feeney and engineer Martin Short responsible for that entry, having both graduated from the Dunlop Super2 Series.

And in management, Roland Dane has retired from a full-time role, with Jamie Whincup the new team principal and managing director.

DJR, on the other hand, has reported a “100 percent staff retention rate” including the extension of its Anton De Pasquale/Ludo Lacroix and Will Davison/Rich Harris driver/engineer pairings for cars #11 and #17.

Further, the season will now start at a DJR stronghold in Sydney Motorsport Park, meaning the pieces are in place for DJR to consign Triple Eight to playing catch-up.

“We’re really excited about this year,” DJR chairman and CEO Ryan Story told Speedcafe.com.

“Obviously we had some wins last year and scored a number of trophies, but we’re not satisfied finishing second in the teams’ championship; we’re not satisfied finishing fourth in the drivers’ championship; we want better than that.

“We’re fortunate to have continuity where we didn’t have it the year before, and we need to take advantage of it early on in the season.”

Story is by no means underestimating the challenge presented by two-time champion van Gisbergen, though.

“The biggest threat of course is Shane,” he continued.

“There’s no question of his talent and his ability, and he ran away with it last year. He did exactly what Scott McLaughlin had done for the three years prior, so the favourite for the championship has to be Shane, even with a new engineer.

“But the reality is he’s in the same car and the bloke still has got plenty of mongrel in him, so he has got to be the favourite for the win.

“I would still suggest that we’re the underdogs based on their car speed and certainly that was demonstrated at Bathurst.

“It’s the responsibility of all us to meet the challenge, and that’s precisely what we’re setting out to do.”

Six teams won races last year, namely DJR, Triple Eight, Walkinshaw Andretti United, Tickford Racing, Erebus Motorsport, and Kelly Grove Racing.

Story fully expects the glory to be shared around again in the final year of using Gen2 machinery.

“I suspect we’re going to see this year a lot of teams winning races, and that’s fantastic for the series,” he said.

DJR will run its pre-season test at Queensland Raceway next week ahead of Round 1 at SMP on March 4-6.

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