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Problems Torpedo Van Gisbergen's Qualifying Promise In Townsville

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Problems Torpedo Van Gisbergen's Qualifying Promise In Townsville

Problems in the pits on Saturday and with his car's steering rack on Sunday effectively torpedoed the promise Kiwi young gun Shane van Gisbergen showed in qualifying at the inaugural Dunlop Townsville 400 V8 Supercar meeting in northern Queensland over the weekend.

With a new car at his disposal the SP Tools-backed 20-year-old from Auckland was immediately on the pace, qualifying fifth quickest for the first race on Saturday, then setting the seventh fastest time in the Top Ten shootout. He also also again seventh quickest in the second qualifying session of the weekend on Sunday morning.

However luck deserted him in both the races, confusion in the pits seeing him lose hard-won track position in the first race, then a problem with his car's steering rack putting him out for good early in the second. Saturday's race really was a case of 'what-might-have-been,' van Gisbergen getting a strong start and making up places straight away - from fifth to fourth on the first lap and to third by lap six before slipping back to 14th with his first pit stop on lap eight. He was back up to 10th by lap 15 though and got as high as sixth before being called in to take his second pit stop when the race's first yellow flag came out.

Unfortunately teammate Alex Davidson was scheduled to come in that lap and when van Gisbergen arrived the crew had Davison's not van Gisbergen's tyres waiting.

Valuable time was lost in the confusion and when he got back out the young Kiwi was down in 21st place. The fact that he made it back up as far as ninth before slipping back to 12th place by race end says volumes about his never-say-die-attitude. But it was very much a case of an opportunity lost.

As was Sunday's brief outing, Stone Brothers Racing being hit by a problem with the steering racks on both their cars. After the rack broke on Alex Davison's car on Saturday a check on the rack in the #9 SP Tools car just 20 minutes before the start of Sunday's race revealed a crack and the rack was replaced.

However like teammate Alex Davison, van Gisbergen only managed a handful of laps (13 to Davison's 12) before he was called into the pits to check the replacement unit and when it was also found wanting his car, like Davison's, was withdrawn on safety grounds. Points-wise the weekend's dramas have taken a heavy toll on van Gisbergen's championship aspirations dropping him from ninth to 12th in the standings.

As he said after Sunday's race; "I was happy with where we qualified and it's a shame we were unable to build on that in the race. I guess we will have to wait for Sandown to come around now as the next chance for us to redeem ourselves."

Dramas for the Stone Brothers Racing team aside the inaugural Dunlop 400 round the purpose-built Reid Park circuit in Townsville was an unqualified success with drivers and fans alike giving the circuit, facilities and sub-tropical far-North city the thumbs up.

Championship defending champion and points leader Jamie Whincup was the big winner over the weekend, beating Holden drivers Will Davison and Garth Tander to the line in Saturday's race then finishing second (this time in front of Tander and Davison) to fellow Ford driver James Courtney on Sunday.

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