Shane van Gisbergen is wholly focussed on winning a V8 Supercars Championship with his other racing, including this month’s Spa 24 Hour Classic, an enjoyable aside to his career objective.
The 25-year old Kiwi says while he enjoys racing a wide variety of cars in Australia, his home country, Europe, and the USA, his absolute priority is V8 Supercars.
“I definitely want to get better and win a Championship here (in V8 Supercars), which I think I can do,” he told v8supercars.com.au.
And that Championship might come sooner rather than later as he has shown very strong form in the last two championship events in his Tekno Autosports VIP Petfoods-backed Holden Commodore VF.
After a poor Perth event where he struggled for pace and also earned the ire of fellow New Zealander Scott McLaughlin, ‘Giz’ has posted consistent top eight results in qualifying and top sixes in the races including rostrums in the crucial double points Race 19 in Darwin and 22 in Townsville.
As a result he has climbed from sixth in the Championship chase to fourth and now lurks just six points behind Brad Jones Racing’s perplexed Fabian Coulthard and one point ahead of the Holden Racing Team’s strengthening James Courtney.
Red Bull Racing’s Craig Lowndes is another two points further back after a disastrous Townville dropped him from second to sixth on the points table.
Ask van Gisbergen what is required for him and Tekno to take the Championship and his answer is simple: “Just consistency.
“We do need to be more consistent. In Perth, we tried a few too many things and we ended up at the back of the field. We were only three-and-a-half tenths off, or something, but these are such small margins.
“As soon as we went back to what we know … we were quicker.”
Van Gisbergen says that consistency applies to his ability to qualify up-front just as much as race pace.
“I think that we have improved qualifying, which was a personal thing. I have never been a good qualifier but I am getting better at that, week to week,” he said.
“If you look at my numbers this year, my average qualifying (8.1) is better than my average race (8.4) position. That is a big swing, which is a positive thing.”
While he’s clearly paying close attention to those numbers, he isn’t being too attentive to the drivers’ championship points tallies, which currently see him 279 points behind Championship leader Mark Winterbottom (Ford Performance Racing Falcon) and 183 adrift of second placed Jamie Whincup (RBRA Commodore).
“Not at the moment because the enduros are 300 points per day,” he cautions.
Van Gisbergen will share the Tekno Commodore with team owner Jonathon Webb in the Pirtek Enduro Cup. Promisingly, the longer the races the better he and the Steve Hallam-managed Tekno team have performed of late, exploiting the added strategy opportunities multi-stop races bring.
In Townsville, in Sunday’s 250km Race 22, van Gisbergen used a three stop strategy to bring his Triple Eight-built Commodore on to the bottom step of the podium, exploiting fresher tyres to charge up from seventh position late in the race.
“It made it fun because people were doing different things,” he enthused. “The shorter races (on Saturday) in Townsville, once you get caught behind someone and it stabilises you can’t really do anything, just sitting there in dirty air.
“So when you have a grip advantage or when I was on the end of my stints and people were coming out of pitlane on new tyres passing me, there was a lot going on. It was good, it made it exciting from the driver’s seat and I didn’t have any idea what was happening with people doing what.
“So I was watching the big screens and listening to my engineer (Dr Geoff Slater) to see what was going on and it worked out in the end. I thought it was quite exciting from my point of view.”
Townsville also marked the first race for van Gisbergen since mediation successfully ended the legal argy-bargy he was involved in with his old team Stone Brothers Racing and the outfit it evolved into in 2013, Erebus Motorsport.
“It is a relief to know that it is over,” van Gisbergen told v8supercars.com.au.
“Off-track, of course, it affects you a lot. I was pretty quiet about it all … but now, it’s a big relief and I feel good for it.
“I don’t think that it ever affected my driving. Off-track, there is now a lot less going on. That is good.”
TEKNO Autosports will test at Queensland Raceway on Monday, before van Gisbergen heads to Europe the following day for the Spa 24-Hour.
The run will give the team an opportunity to test items it didn't get to at the last test day in May and also gives team boss and co-driver Jonathon Webb time behind the wheel. Webb confirmed they will "play with the car a little", but has been happy with the progress made in Darwin and Townsville, after a tough run in Perth for van Gisbergen.
The team will test again before the Pirtek Enduro Cup in September.