Shane van Gisbergen’s flawless start to the 2021 Repco Supercars Championship has the Kiwi eyeing up a new record in the category’s history.
The Kiwi has won the opening five races of the season and has now won six consecutive Supercars races, given he ended the 2020 championship with a victory in the season-ending Bathurst 1000.
Van Gisbergen becomes only the fourth diver in ATCC/Supercars history to make such a winning start to a campaign. The first was Allan Moffat in 1977, with Peter Brock and Mark Skaife doing the same in 1980 and 1994. All three would go on to win that year’s title.
A victory in race six of the championship at Symmons Plains next month will have van Gisbergen tie with Moffat’s and Skaife’s record. Meanwhile, back-to-back wins – making it seven in a row – will put the 31-year-old in unchartered territory.
Symmons Plains has been a strong track for van Gisbergen in the past, and he is the most recent winner at the Tasmanian circuit with a victory in the weekend’s final race in 2019.
Alongside his winning streak record, the Red Bull driver also has a chance to equal Brock’s tally of 48 career wins.
Van Gisbergen’s victory in Sunday’s final race moved him onto 45 career triumphs, putting him within three of matching the legendary Brock.
To add to the awe of van Gisbergen’s sublime Sandown performance, it was not until moments before free practice on Saturday that the paddock learnt he would drive over the weekend.
Breaking his collarbone in a mountain biking crash a fortnight earlier, Garth Tander was put on standby in-case the team’s regular driver would be compelled to miss the event.
Van Gisbergen raced with a shoulder plate to prevent further damage, yet it was evident he was in pain across the weekend. After the final race, he admitted that he would likely race the rest of the season with the plate.
“Probably at the end of the year, the surgeon said,” van Gisbergen said when asked when the plate will be removed.
“I’ll go see him on Tuesday and [have an] x-ray to see if I’ve done any damage. But I feel pretty good.
“Then I’ll just keep recovering. Hyperbaric chamber and keep it in the sling, keep the weight off of it.
“[I’ve] got GT in two weekends’ time, so should be ready to go for that again.”
Saturday’s race also saw van Gisbergen climb from 17th to first, marking the lowest starting position for a winning driver at Sandown since 1965.
The Tasmania SuperSprint will be held over April 10-11.