Clean sweep looms as Kiwi makes it three, reports Mark Fattore.
New Zealand enforcer Shane Van Gisbergen is on track for the first V8 Supercar clean sweep at Albert Park in six years following another dominant display in race three of the MSS Security V8 Supercars Challenge on Saturday.
The pole-sitter again blasted to the front from the double-file rolling start, which is proving to be a popular addition to the V8 Supercar program this weekend.
That’s where he stayed for the full 12 laps, ending hostilities in front of fellow-Holden Commodore drivers Fabian Coulthard and Craig Lowndes.
The opening laps of race three were held under a Safety Car situation after Dale Wood (Commodore) came into contact with the stricken car of Chaz Mostert (Ford Falcon) on lap one, with the resultant damage and debris taking a while to clear.
The pair would later be joined on the race three casualty list by Scott Pye (Falcon, crash) and Jason Bright (Commodore, mechanical).
When the action resumed at the start of lap four, 24-year-old Van Gisbergen carried on normal service while Lowndes soon ran wide, forfeiting second position to Coulthard.
After that the race settled into a holding pattern, with the top eight positions uncharged for the last eight laps.
The only potential spoiler was the arrival of some rain drops on the final circuit. However, all drivers got through the mild scare unscathed, as the top three were followed home by Scott McLaughlin (Volvo S60), Garth Tander (Commodore), Michael Caruso (Nissan Altima), Jamie Whincup (Commodore) and Mark Winterbottom (Falcon).
“That race was quite close again, but I had enough of a buffer on that final lap to get the job done,” said Van Gisbergen.
“The biggest issue was the wind, especially through turns nine, 11 and 13 – it was throwing our big heavy cars around, so I’ll be watching F1 qualifying with interest!”
Van Gisbergen will now be chasing a V8 Supercar clean sweep in tomorrow’s final race, with Tander the last driver to achieve maximum points since way back in 2008.
After three races, Van Gisbergen has 225 points ahead of Coulthard (188), Lowndes (181) and McLaughlin (179).
Mirroring F1 this season, the final race will be for double points. All the action in that one begins at 1:15pm on Sunday.