New Zealander racing driver Shane Van Gisbergen has been on my radar since 2011 when he managed to win a few rounds of Aussie V8 Supercars in a Stone Brothers Racing car. Since then the world has seen that he is a violently fast driver regardless of the equipment under him, scoring the fastest ever lap at Mount Panorama in 2016 taking pole for the Bathurst 12 Hour. Last year he won the Bathurst 1000 supercars race teamed with Garth Tander.
It would seem that the 31-year-old racer who has been wowing on the world stage for at least half of a decade is just coming into his own. Admittedly the best driver in Supercars, Scott McLaughlin, has left the series for his big shot in IndyCars this year, but without competition from Scotty Mac, SVG has absolutely dominated the series so far.
Without anything else on his plate, no international sports car drives, no endurance races, no leaving the Antipodes, no intercontinental flights, Van Gisbergen has just one focus. He is hungry, and he wants to take his Triple Eight Race Engineering car to the top step as often as possible. Five rounds into the Supercars season, he’s won five races on the trot. His next nearest competitor on points thus far, Jamie Whincup, is already 150 points adrift of the Red Bull driver.
Over the weekend, the series hosted a three-race super sprint at Sandown, and Shane won all three races from the weekend. No other driver even scored three podiums from the weekend, widening his points spread. We already told you about Shane’s dominant and impressive drive from 17th on the grid to the win in Saturday’s first race of the weekend. The Sunday races were both much more straightforward affairs, though both races were run in the wet. Both times Van Gisbergen started on the front row, ran a strong race from the front, and delivered on excellent race strategy from pit wall.
Oh, and he did all of that with a broken collarbone.
He’s always been fast, there’s no debating that, but perhaps he was torn in too many different directions to really deliver on that speed consistently from race to race. Maybe by finally shifting his focus to a single championship, growing up a bit, and giving it his all, he’ll be the champion he’s always been destined to become.
We’re only five rounds into the season, with 26 rounds yet to complete. It’s far too soon to call a champion a champion, but I’d be willing to bet Shane wins half of the races this season and podiums the rest. This guy is the real deal, and it’s going to take a hell of a driver/team combination to tear him down. Even the 2020-dominant DJR-Penske team doesn’t appear to be holding its shit together without Scott McLaughlin in the driver’s seat.
Allow me to be the first to congratulate Shane on his 2021 Supercars championship. There, I did it, I’m calling my shots. Let’s see how this prediction holds up when the season ends on December 5th at Surfers Paradise.