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Top Kiwi hope confident heading into 2011 V8 Supercar season


Shane van Gisbergen is confident of a good start to the 2011 V8 Supercar season after a strong test at Sydney's Eastern Creek Raceway over the weekend

 The 21-year-old who drives the SP Tools-backed #9 Ford Falcon for Queensland-based compatriots Ross and Jimmy Stone's Stone Brothers Racing team set the second quickest lap time in the first session at the Sydney test day and says it was good to get back behind the wheel before the long flight to Abu Dhabi in the Middle East for the opening round of this season's series in 10 days time.

“All round, " he said, "it was a great day. After not being in the car for a couple of months you forget how quick they are but having said that by the end of the day you still want more power!”

Eastern Creek Raceway has not hosted a round of the V8 Supercar series since 2008, meaning all the teams at the test started off on the same footing.

"It was actually a nice change," says van Gisbergen, " because the circuit has a lot of different aspects to it that allow you to get a varied reading on how one change to a setting behaves across both a fast flowing sector as well as a couple of tighter corners which probably gives us a better reading on the car’s true pace and helps us perfect a good base from which to start next time we roll out of the truck."

Last year's Yas 400 meeting at the state-of-the-art Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi was one of van Gisbergen's best, the young Kiwi setting the second quickest lap time in the first qualifying session then the ninth quickest time in the Top 10 Shootout before finishing sixth in the first 200 km race and third in the second.

He then went on to qualify fourth and set the second quickest lap time in the Top 10 Shootout before crossing the finish line fifth in the first race and third in the second at the second 2010 series round at Bahrain a week later.

This season there is just the one race in the Middle East, with a break of just over a month until the first domestic round of the 2011 series, the popular Clipsal 500 in Adelaide, over the March 19-20 weekend.

Unlike some of the other teams Stone Brothers Racing has seen little change over the summer break with van Gisbergen - who finished sixth in the 2010 series points standings -  in the SP Tools # 9 Ford Falcon again joined by Alex Davidson in the #4 Irwin Tools Ford Falcon and Tim Slade in the #47 Lucky 7 Ford Falcon.

Slade was 5th and Davidson 8th in the first session at Eastern Creek, a result which - with van Gisbergen's P2 position - put a smile on SBR Team Principal Ross Stone's face.

“Our first outing for 2011 was a very positive experience. In fact I couldn’t be happier,” said Stone.“We had a comprehensive test program to work through and we packed up the truck on Saturday night knowing we are pointing in the right direction for a good showing at the opening race in Abu Dhabi."


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