Video: Australia's far north is proving a happy hunting ground for young Kiwi Shane van Gisbergen. Last year he enjoyed two podium finishes at the SkyCity Triple Crown meeting at Hidden Valley Raceway and this year he claimed his first V8 Supercar win on Australian soil at the Darwin circuit.
The win comes almost two months to the day after the 22-year-old claimed his first series win at his 'home' round in Hamilton and with two wins to his name now it marks him out as a bona fide 2011 title contender.
He claimed his second in style too, following up the disappointment of the late race clash and subsequent scrabble to finish seventh in Saturday's race with a stirring drive forward from his sixth row starting position (P12) to eventually catch and pass Craig Lowndes for the lead of Sunday's race with just three laps to go.
In doing so van Gisbergen proved the efficacy of Stone Brothers Racing's tyre strategy, the team choosing to start its drivers on the harder 'control' tyre and save the softer 'option' tyre until later on, when - as happened - a Safety Car period might play into their hands.
The result sees the Kiwi, still the youngest driver in the category, move back into third in the Driver’s Championship just 261 points from leader Jamie Whincup and 105 from second placed Craig Lowndes.
It also cements SBR’s second place in the Team’s Championship behind Triple 8.
“This is awesome! Yesterday was a bit of a shambles but we had a bit of luck with that last Safety Car and that’s what we were hoping for with our strategy. Our race pace on the hard tyre was pretty good but we didn’t really have enough to make a move early on. Add to that there was oil all over turn one after (Jason) Bright’s engine let go so that also made things interesting," Shane says.
"In the last stint on the soft tyre the car was great and I was able to look after my tyres really well which the Safety Car helped with and for the final eight lap sprint home I had plenty of grip and was able to really push. I could see Craig was in trouble with his rear tyres and I didn’t have much left when I passed him either but it’s perfect for our championship.”
Next stop for the V8 Supercar circus is Rnd 7 on the streets of Townsville over the July 09-10 weekend.
Series points after Rnd 6 of 14
1. Jamie Whincup 1395 2. Craig Lowndes 1239 3. Shane Van Gisbergen (SP Tools Ford Falcon) 1134 4. Rick Kelly 1082 5. Steven Johnson 1030 6. Will Davison 1020 7. Garth Tander 1013 8. Alex Davison 963 9. Mark Winterbottom 961 10. Jason Bright 920 11. Fabian Coulthard 838 12. Lee Holdsworth 801 13. Tim Slade 711 14. Michael Caruso 696 15. Jason Bargwanna 686 16. James Courtney 679 17. Greg Murphy 635 18. Jonathon Webb 618 19. Paul Dumbrell 616 20. Steve Owen 576