After his rough start to the weekend, Shane van Gisbergen has regained his glory on the top of the podium at Sandown.
March 25, 2021
The 31-year-old racing driver from New Zealand drove a fantastic race last Saturday, March 20, to see the checkered flag first.
At the start of March, the Kiwi fractured his collarbone during a mountain biking crash. The fracture required surgery and made him sit out of the first round of the GT World Challenge Australia Championship at Phillip Island.
He returned to racing that weekend, and despite the pain in his collarbone, he claimed it wasn’t distracting him from driving. He showed that in the free practice sessions, comfortably finishing in the top 10 of both. Qualifying didn’t see him continue with that pace; he only managed to end the session in 17th. He got through Q1 but eventually stalled in Q2, only missing out on Q3 by a tenth. He admitted he just didn’t drive as well as he could and couldn’t get the tyres phased well enough. Chaz Mostert was the one to claim pole position for the first race of the weekend, closely followed by Cameron Waters.
The 36-lap race didn’t see Mostert in the lead for long; he fell back to 4th in the first turn while Waters took the lead. It didn’t take long for the race to be neutralized. On lap 2, Bryce Fullwood was sent into the barriers at turn 4 by Gray Jacobson.
The race restarted on lap 7, and van Gisbergen was already up to 11th by lap 8. Only 11 laps later, he passed Will Davison to move up to the 5th spot. By lap 20, van Gisbergen still hadn’t pitted, which got him into the lead as all his competitors were already on fresh tyres. It took him till lap 25 to finally head to the pit lane.
“It’s been pretty tough two weeks, but I feel awesome in the car, and obviously my car’s great.”
Mostert regained his lead by undercutting the trio in front of him; however, he lost it again on lap 33 when Waters overtook him on turn 1. Van Gisbergen, who had gotten back up into fourth once more, took advantage of it and overtook both Mostert and Whincup to climb into second place. Into the first corner on the last lap, he also overtook Waters which ended up being his winning move.
Van Gisbergen took the checkered flag first at Sandown to record his 43rd career win and his 3rd win of the season. With his victory from all the way back on the grid, he broke a 56-year-old record at Sandown. His victory from 17th was the lowest starting position for a sprint race at the circuit in Melbourne. The previous record was set in 1965 by Norm Beechey, coming from 14th.
“It’s been pretty tough two weeks, but I feel awesome in the car, and obviously my car’s great,” van Gisbergen said after the race.
The victory sees him lead the championship further with 60-points over Mostert ahead of the two other 36-lap sprint races on Sunday. Ending the weekend on an even better note, van Gisbergen took pole positions and wins for both races on Sunday. This saw him extend his championship lead even further to 150 points over Jamie Whincup.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Eline follows a variety of motorsports from Formula E to IMSA to Nascar to WEC. They hope to study Mechanical Engineering to work in motorsports one day.
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