Shane van Gisbergen has reflected on his incredible maiden New Zealand Grand Prix win — an electrified charge through the pack defying his pit-lane starting position and seeing him add his name to both GP history and the New Zealand Motor Cup.
“[The team] prepared the car well. We caught up to the field and picked them off one by one. What an awesome race … I don’t know how it happened,” he said.
Van Gisbergen clawed his way from last to the lead pack, triggering a string of scintillating battles; first between he and Brendon Leitch, then surprise pole-sitter Kaleb Ngatoa, then the leading duo of Andre Heimgartner and early race leader Daniel Gaunt.
The Red Bull–backed Bathurst 1000 champion ranks the race win as being one of the biggest achievements of his career.
“It’s definitely up there. The New Zealand Grand Prix is the most prestigious race here, and to get my name on that trophy is a pretty special thing,” he said.
“Seeing all the other names on it, the names from the ’50s and ’60s and a few of my heroes from my time growing up — it’s unreal. Hard to put into words. [I’m] stoked with that.”
Pre-race focus had been on Chris van der Drift. Starting from the second row of the grid, he appeared destined to take the race lead and gap the field for a maiden GP victory of his own.
However, a nose-to-tyre contact while trying to get by Gaunt at turn two caused wing damage and forced van der Drift to pit. He eventually recovered for a commendable fifth.
The Castrol Toyota Racing Series now prepares for its second round, held next weekend at Hampton Downs Motorsport Park’s National Circuit.